Cooking & Eating Fresh Chestnuts
Eating chestnuts can be delightful or disappointing, depending on several factors. They can easily be undercooked or overcooked; only experience and experimenting will teach you how to get it right. A properly "done" nut should be mealy, not crunchy (undercooked), and lightly colored, not very dark (overcooked), though very sweet nuts may turn somewhat dark when cooked anyway. The shells and skins peel easily off a warm cooked nut, especially when using our new plier-peeling method on parboiled halves. They can be simply eaten out of hand after roasting, or precooked to varying degrees before mixing in stuffing or other dishes. Surprise, surprise: Smaller nuts cook faster.
For best flavor, take Chestnuts out of the fridge 3-4 days before you intend to eat them, and spread them out where they can dry slowly at room temperature.
- Raw: Although European chestnuts are not worth eating raw, ours are great! You can just bite the nut in half; the shell is NOT hard but leathery. If you can bite carrots, you can bite chestnuts. Just pick the white meat out and eat. Yummy, and totally different from cooked. Some folks love them one way, but not the other—we like them both ways.
- Oven Roasting: Try 350 degree F for 10 minutes first. Adjust time as needed.
- Microwave: Try 10 nuts at high power for 1 minute. Batch size will make a big difference in time. Overdone nuts will have hard, dry parts—reduce power or time if needed. Also, some strong microwaves may cause the nuts to explode even though the nuts have been properly pierced. Try cooking them at reduced power, or if that still does not work, cut the nuts entirely in half before cooking.
- Open Fire Roasting: Place at the edge of the coals and wait 4-6 minutes or until you see them steaming or hear them hissing. Highly recommended. Old-time teenagers used to put unpierced nuts in the fire and bet kisses on whose nut would explode first…a custom perhaps worth reviving…
- Boiling: A convenient way to prepare nuts for any dish that doesn't require them to be whole. Cut nuts entirely in half, drop in rapidly boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Cool and peel the shells and skins. Return to simmer to make nuts softer—long cooking turns nuts dark.
Here at Badgersett we've just developed a method for peeling parboiled, halved chestnuts using a small set of pliers with a good-gripping tip. This is much faster than other peeling methods, and you don't end up with chestnut shell under your fingernails! Visit the peeling page to see the directions and a demo movie.
- Woodstove top: Pierce and place on medium hot surface; turn so they don't scorch. Time varies!
Warning: Chestnuts EXPLODE if cooked without being pierced or halved first!
Steam will build up inside the sealed nut, causing them to detonate like popcorn, only they just make a big mess. Before cooking, always take a paring knife and make a simple deep cut all the way through the "tail" end of each nut; this will allow the steam to escape harmlessly.
- Storing & handling fresh Chestnuts
- Storing and preparing fresh chestnuts: Details for the Chestnut connoisseur—Detailed information on storing and cooking fresh chestnuts
- Recipes from Badgersett Farm: Recipes we've developed using our Hazelnuts and Chestnuts
- About our nuts—Basic information about Badgersett nuts and why they're special