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Ah chestnuts. These festive nuts have such an irresistible flavor! They are the perfect seasonal treat! And you don't have to roast them over an open fire, you can roast them in your oven!
What Are Chestnuts?
From Wikipedia: "The chestnuts are the deciduous trees and shrubs in the genus Castanea, in the beech family Fagaceae. They are native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The name also refers to the edible nuts they produce."
I will discuss them from a culinary perspective in this post. These delicious nuts have a buttery, sweet, and meaty flavor. Their taste is unlike any other nut and completely distinctive!
They are available seasonally from around the fall through early winter. I believe part of the reason they are so prized is their seasonality and relatively short time frame of availability. So be sure to enjoy some while they are in season!
How To Pick Chestnuts At The Store
When in season, it's my belief that it is best for you to pick chestnuts at the store individually and not already bagged.
You should select chestnuts that feel heavy for their size, and do not rattle around in their shells. If they rattle around then they are too old.
Try to pick chestnuts that have a smooth and shiny surface, without any apparent mold.
Please allow me to say there is nothing wrong with chestnuts that have already been bagged. However, selecting your own gives you more control that the nuts you select are good choices for roasting and enjoying.
Don't Wait To Enjoy Your Chestnuts!
Once you have chosen some prize chestnuts for roasting, it's best to not wait too long to use them. Unfortunately they tend to spoil rather quickly. Therefore, try to roast them as soon as you can. If you aren't able to do so in the few days after bringing them home, then you can store them in the fridge to prolong freshness.
Once I made the mistake of leaving my bagged chestnuts out too long. When I roasted them they were moldy and not edible. Please don't make the same mistake as I did. 😐
Simple Steps To Roasting Chestnuts in Your Oven
Now it's time to pop your chestnuts in your oven! It's pretty simple...the main thing to remember is to make a small incision into them prior to roasting. If this is not done, they will explode!
- Preheat your oven to 375F. Make an incision into the round side of each chestnut. Use a sharp knife, and please be careful! The incision should be a small cross such as pictured below.
2. Place the chestnuts (with incisions) on a rimmed baking tray lined with some parchment paper and bake for around 15 minutes - 30 minutes. Why such a wide range of time? Please be aware that smallish chestnuts will take less time to roast than larger ones. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn.
They are ready when the cut part pops up nicely!
3. Peel and enjoy! The best way to peel them is when they are hot. You can use a kitchen towel to help protect your fingers. Be sure to take the outer shell off as well as the thin papery skin between the nut and the shell.
Enjoy the beautiful, seasonal, and delicious treat which is the Roasted Chestnut!
What Country Produces The Most Chestnuts?
China dominates the chestnut market! AtlasBig.com states that China produces more than 75% of the world's chestnuts! They state that China produces around 1.8 million tonnes production per year. Spain comes in at a very distant second with 188,930 tonnes yearly production! Incredible!
1,000 Foods To Eat Project
I am working my way through the foods that are listed in the book 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die by Mimi Sheraton. This is called my 1,000 Foods to Eat Project. The Chestnut is food #57 in my Project! It was most enjoyable roasting these festive nuts at home in my oven for the first time. It certainly won't be the last!
In this book, the author Mimi Sheraton lists her choice for the 1,000 Foods of the World that you MUST try. So if you haven't tried chestnuts before, please be sure to take the time to enjoy this MUST try food!
Some Other Foods You May Enjoy!
Please follow along with me on this quest to try the 1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die, from the book by Mimi Sheraton! Join me in this journey and discover new foods, experiences, and cuisines which I hope will add inspiration, fun, and joy to your life! For a list of the foods tried so far visit the 1,000 Foods to Eat Project page.
If you'd like to follow along and be a part of the 1,000 Foods Project, please sign up to get the latest recipes and inspiration for you to expand your food comfort zone! It's an incredible journey, please join me by signing up here. 😊
How To Roast Chestnuts
- rimmed baking tray
- 1 pound chesnuts
- Preheat your oven to around 375F. Make an incision into the round side of each chestnut. Use a sharp knife, and please be careful! The incision should be a small cross such as pictured below.
- Place the chestnuts (with incisions) on a rimmed baking tray lined with some parchment paper and bake for around 15 minutes - 30 minutes. Why such a wide range of time? Please be aware that smallish chestnuts will take less time to roast than larger ones. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn. They are ready when the cut part pops up nicely!
- Peel and enjoy! The best way to peel them is when they are hot. You can use a kitchen towel to help protect your fingers. Be sure to take the outer shell off as well as the thin papery skin between the nut and the shell.