‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire’… for some people this is what comes to mind when speaking of chestnuts. This 1946 christmas song is one of the last remnants of chestnut knowledge in modern American culture. However, the chestnut has endured countless ages of history and can be found growing in, and has been utilized in almost all temperate climates of the world…from China and Japan through much of Europe and North America. In many cities you’ll find street vendors offering fresh roasted chestnuts…a lovely warm up and a tasty meal in and of itself. And as the Christmas Song reminds us— roasting chestnuts is truly one of the best ways to enjoy the carbohydrate-rich nuts. Chestnuts don’t have to be roasted over an open fire; in fact they can be done in the oven or on a stove top and it sounds crazy but some even say the microwave works… I’ll pass on that! Here is one simple method for producing the tastiest darn chestnuts you’ve ever had…
NOTE: Chestnuts are at their best when partially dried or ‘cured’ for 5-10 days before eating. This will increase their sugar content and overall flavor. Freshly picked nuts are more starchy and less flavorful, but still good.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chestnuts on baking sheet making sure not to layer the nuts on top of one another. Using a sharp knife begin cutting X’s in one side of the chestnut shell.
Place chestnuts into the oven for 25-30 minutes. Use a fork or knife to check the nuts; when done they should be soft but not mushy.
Let chestnuts cool for a few minutes before eating. Peel shells and enjoy with your family and friends!
Roasted chestnuts come free of their shells relatively easy. Aside from improving the flavor, this is another benefit of roasting the nuts. Sometimes I roast large batches and remove the shells all at once and store the roasted nuts in the freezer. They can then be used in soups, stir-fries, or thawed and eaten as is. To learn more about curing and storing chestnuts check out this article by Lee Reich.