How do I roast chestnuts so that they're easy to peel?
November 24, 2009 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Is there something I can do to chestnuts so that they are easier to peel after roasting?
posted by ovesh to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
At Trader Joe's, they have a sign up telling you to cut an "X" into the flat side before roasting.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:13 AM on November 24, 2009


The x is to let steam out, but it does help with te peeling. I find if you take them out of the oven/fire/whatever and you wrap them in a towel and let them sort of steam themselves for 5 minutes or so the shells open up a bit, and get easier to peel.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:15 AM on November 24, 2009


I give them an horizontal cut. Then they're easy to peel. (Portuguese) Tradition says if you're boiling them the cut should be vertical. Very scientific... anyway, they look like this when they finish roasting.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 7:20 AM on November 24, 2009


Not sure if it can be predictable enough, but a friend of mine runs a chestnut orchard in Ohio, and he told me once that drying them out just a tad helps with the peeling. He had an automated machine that would take off the nutshell and the inner membrane, which is called the pellicle, IIRC. Makes sense, since it is inflexible and the nut meat is not.

How you dry them before the weevils get in I don't know. Fridge maybe for a few days?
posted by FauxScot at 7:50 AM on November 24, 2009


If you're really serious you get a chestnut knife for scoring the shell. Some time ago Cooks Illustrated (I think) did a comparison of different ways to prepare chestnuts for roasting and concluded that the horizontal cut all the way around the nut worked best; I have used it with good results.
posted by TedW at 8:47 AM on November 24, 2009


I cut a T on the pointy end instead of the flat side and this seems to work pretty well.
posted by mearls at 8:54 AM on November 24, 2009


A local roasted chestnut seller outside one of our biggest Asian markets here in Seattle provides a plastic holder: you squeeze it and it pinches and cuts the shell in the middle, horizontally. Here's a chowhound entry about the gadget. Failing that, I'd use a knife and cut an x. FYI, tons of options and instructions on how to do it if you google "roasted chestnut cutter."
posted by bearwife at 10:24 AM on November 24, 2009


I'll give the T thing a try (thanks mearls).
posted by ovesh at 10:47 AM on November 24, 2009


One other thing to remember, peel them while still warm or the inner membrane becomes very difficult to remove. Reheat them if necessary. Wear gloves to make handling the hot chestnuts easier. Cutting the outside skin is no big deal, although I like that chestnut cutter. It is just a matter of using a sharp enough knife I use a MAC Santaku as it is my sharpest knife. However, getting that inner membrane off can be most frustrating. Retaining them in a towel while they cool enough to handle and attacking them while they are still hot are the keys here. Even then it is tough. I have been watching this thread for a while hoping someone would have some secret here for the inner membrane. I still have my fingers crossed.
posted by caddis at 11:39 AM on November 24, 2009


The x is to let steam out, but it does help with te peeling.

Um, dirtdirt, if you think about what you wrote, you kinda proved the "x" is both to let steam out and to help with peeling.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:40 AM on November 24, 2009


Yeah, sure. But you could peel one even if you didn't pre X it, but if you roast them without cutting some of them will pop/explode. The cut is to release steam, that it makes it easier to peel is happy coincidence.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:08 PM on November 24, 2009


Yeah, sure. But you could peel one even if you didn't pre X it, but if you roast them without cutting some of them will pop/explode. The cut is to release steam, that it makes it easier to peel is happy coincidence.

Nice try, but you're still wrong. A simple hole in the shell is all that's needed to release the steam. The first stroke is sufficient; if you cut an X, the extra stroke is only needed if you intend to ease the shelling process.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:38 PM on November 27, 2009


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