Store Fresh Chestnuts & Solve the Tricky Question of Peeling Them
We harvest a big crop of chestnuts every year. Here's how to treat and store them so that they become sweeter. Also, how to make the tedious task of peeling them as fun as possible. Please try it out, even if you just have a few chestnuts.
To store fresh chestnuts (including required materials)
2 sheets per bag
To peel the chestnuts (including required equipment)
Knife or chestnut peeling gadge
How to store fresh chestnuts so that they become sweeter: Don't wash the chestnuts you've harvested. Just wipe them clean. (If the dirt doesn't bother you, just leave them as-is.)
Wrap in newspaper, then put them in plastic bags (such as plastic shopping bags) and store in the coldest part of the refrigerator. (Use the "chilled" compartment if your refrigerator has one). This way, they become sweeter.
How to peel the chestnuts: Make a crisscross into the pointy end. Be careful not to cut yourself if you're using a knife.
Don't cut too deep or the chestnuts will fall apart when cooked. As long as you pierce through the outer shell and the inner skin, they're fine.
If you are using a chestnut peeler, it's easier if you cut into the outer shell and inner skin with the end of the scissors.
Put the scored chestnuts and enough water to cover in a pressure cooker. Bring up to pressure, then lower the heat and cook under pressure for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and cool the cooker down rapidly.
Drain the water. When the chestnuts have cooled down a bit, start peeling from the scored end. Stick the end of a knife under the skin and peel off. It will come off easily.
Use the chestnuts in syrup or other recipes. You can freeze them in plastic bags too.
If you want to retain the inner skin for chestnuts simmered in their inner skins, just score through the outer shell in Step 4. This way, the inner skin won't tear and will remain intact.
Observation: I tried storing the chestnuts in the "chilled" compartment for 2 weeks, changing the newspapers twice during the process. I think the chestnuts got about 20% or so sweeter.
I also stored some chestnuts in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator and compared them. The ones in the "chilled" compartment were sweeter.
Further observation: After 2 months, the chestnuts stored in the "chilled" compartment had no problems at all. They were delicious cooked. (I changed the newspapers several times.)
To be more specific, the chestnuts seem to dry out a little, since I think the outer shell got a little wrinkled. Therefore, instead of peeling I boiled them in their shells and scooped out the insides.
Further further observation: After 3 months, the chestnuts in the "chilled" compartment were perfectly fine. Is it before of the amount, moisture, and the scoring? (continued...)
(Continued) I cooked chestnuts in a pressure cooker - about 20 chestnuts with 200 ml of water, brought to a boil and cooked under pressure over low heat for 5 minutes, then cooled rapidly to bring down the pressure. They were cooked through on the firm side.
Further further further observation: Even after 4 months, the chestnuts in the "chilled" compartment still had a sheen and were fine.
This year, we used up all the chestnuts after 4 months. From here on we'll be using the frozen ones until next chestnut season.
From my yearly experiences: Use peeled chestnuts within a month, even if they are frozen. They take on a freezer-smell otherwise.
If you are making a chestnut paste, see Recipe ID: 1555868.
Story Behind this Recipe
I was faced with the dilemma of dealing with a big load of chestnuts. I stored them in the chilled compartment of the refrigerator to prevent them from going bad - and that made them actually sweeter. Every year, we store and preserve the huge crop of chestnuts we get at my parents' house and enjoy them throughout the hear, but it's always a big task to deal with them, so I think up ways to do so every year. This is this year's version.
When storing fresh chestnuts, don't wash since they dislike moisture. If the newspaper becomes moist, change it. I think the amount of time you need to cook the chestnuts under pressure varies on the cooker, so adjust accordingly. If you boil them for too long at Step 6 they'll fall apart when you peel them, so watch out! (5 minutes is just about right - not too soft, not too hard.)