Sunday, November 15, 2015

Chestnuts

I have been wanting to try chestnuts ever since my dad told me that he plated chestnuts trees on his farm a couple of years ago.The topic of chestnuts came up again while we were spending time together last Christmas. We went out and tried to find them at the store but we came up empty handed. 

A couple of weeks ago I was at the Commissary and I saw that they has chestnuts. Of course I had to get some and give them a try. Needless to say my first attempt was a fail. I tried to roast them in the oven but did not cook them long enough and they came out very hard and nearly impossible to peal. Last week I got chestnuts again from the Commissary and decided to try again! 

Let me share with you how I found the best way to prepare chestnuts is. Below are the first steps to take before the cooking process begins. 
My dad shared this link with me from washingtonchestnut.com and it was very helpful. The most important step is to make sure to cut the shell so that the chestnut does not explode. 
I let the chestnuts sit out for about a week to sweeten. I found the easiest way to cut into the shell is by making an x on the flat side of the chestnut.

Before making the slits into the chestnuts shell get a pot of water boiling on high heat on the stove. 
Once slits are made and water is boiling add the chestnuts into the boiling water, and let boil for 10-15 minutes, or until the shells have begun to peel back and open. Turn off the heat.
Using a slotted spoon transfer 1 chestnuts to a clean dish towel. Bundle the towel around the nut to keep the heat in, and use the towel to help peel back the shells and rub off the inner skins. Repeat this process until all of the nuts are shelled. 

Using a towel makes the peeling process very easy compared to using my hands to the last time I made chestnuts.

You may want to use an older, rattier towel for this, as the mahogany colored shells may leave some stains.
That's it! 

The reason I found boiling to be better than roasting is that boiling is a little faster than roasting. Boiling makes the chestnuts quite a bit softer and easier to peel. Also,the flavor is a little more mild compared to roasting, but still sweet. 

Chestnuts are a delicious treat with lots of healthy benefits. They are rich in folate and nutrients. They have a high vitamin c content. They contain less fat then other nuts. They counter effects from sodium.They control blood pressure and improve metabolism. They offer a decent dose of vitamin A. And they are very rich in potassium and protein. 

I can't wait to make chestnuts some day with my dad from the trees he plated. 

Enjoy!