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OliverB

Chestnut peeling problem

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to my delight fresh chestnuts showed up at the market today. To my dismay, they are impossible to peel.

I did the cut an X in the flat side, stuck them in the oven at 425 for 30 min, they opened up nicely and look great, but it's completely impossible to remove the inner brown woody skin from them. No knife or other tool works, we can dig out some flesh and discard all the rest, which is a shame and a waste. And it's not like the chestnuts I remember from being a child, they peeled just fine.

Did I do something wrong? Is there something wrong with these? Is there a trick? You can buy frozen roasted chestnuts, so a machine seems to be able to do this just fine, why can't I?

Any ideas? Tips?

I'll put the remaining ones in a bag until tomorrow and see if somebody has a suggestion, otherwise I'll have to throw them out. :-(

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I think you have to literally score them almost all the way around. And peel them when they're hot.

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this is the youtube video i found some months ago, tried it and it works well, but is not as easy as shown on video, perhaps after some practice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pE1hV4dSBmc

as in the video, look for the american or chinese variety of chestnuts, and not european, for easier peeling.

i use chestnuts mainly in cooking, and buy frozen cleaned chestnuts from chinese grocery stores, but would not be suitable if you are just wanting fresh roasted chestnuts.

have fun


Edited by jsager01 (log)

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I too prefer making a cut across the "equator" of the chestnut, as opposed to making an "x". I also deep fry them instead of roasting. Just a few minutes at a low temp, (280F), then let them sit under a damp towel until cool enough to handle.

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Cut them in halves and steam them.

Then use a small spoon to scoop the meat out.

dcarch

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I cut the X on the curved side of the chestnut. It's easier if the nut is lying on its flat side. I also cut a slit on the flat side of the nut to help steam escape. A friend likes to use an icepick to punch a hole on the flat side.

It's early in the chestnut season. Is it possible that those nuts are not quite ripe?

If you have a chance, let us know how it goes.

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'Tis the season. We went to a "dinner club" meal tonight that was held outdoors in a chestnut orchard. Before the meal, we walked around and gathered about five pounds of Chinese chestnuts. We're planning to vacuum pack and freeze most of them, so the orchard owner gave us a tip similar to dcarch's: Cut each chestnut completely in half from pole to pole, then blanch for a couple of minutes. Most of the chestnut meat should slip right out. If it doesn't, it shouldn't be difficult to remove the shell and skin.

Here are a bunch of recipes from the Michigan Chestnut Growers' website. I made this rather good chestnut pâté a few years ago. The Chestnut Brandy Ice Cream and Bourbon Chocolate Chestnut Torte also were quite good, if memory serves.

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I cut the X on the curved side of the chestnut. It's easier if the nut is lying on its flat side. I also cut a slit on the flat side of the nut to help steam escape. A friend likes to use an icepick to punch a hole on the flat side.

It's early in the chestnut season. Is it possible that those nuts are not quite ripe?

If you have a chance, let us know how it goes.

I also make the cuts on the curved side (makes for longer cuts, and it's easier to get sme purchase on the edges), and peel them straight from the oven. So far, have never had a problem getting them to peel.

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this is the youtube video i found some months ago, tried it and it works well, but is not as easy as shown on video, perhaps after some practice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pE1hV4dSBmc

as in the video, look for the american or chinese variety of chestnuts, and not european, for easier peeling.

i use chestnuts mainly in cooking, and buy frozen cleaned chestnuts from chinese grocery stores, but would not be suitable if you are just wanting fresh roasted chestnuts.

have fun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbT3RnP9fLA this is a better link, and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5iW8PhNvEo

ETA; to add links


Edited by jsager01 (log)

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What I do is boil the chestnuts to cook them then"X" cut while still hot. They should peel well for you while the shells are still steamy, but I like a toasty flavor from roasting. While I'm cutting I place a cast iron pan on high heat and set my oven to high broil. After all are ready I put them into the pan and into the oven until the shells crisp. I've found this method produces a tender nutmeat with good texture and taste and easy to remove shells.


Edited by Winston Smith (log)
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Instead of scoring the top of the chestnut, place nut on cutting board, flattest side down then with a pointy pairing knife push thepoint through the nut to the bottom, turn nut 45 % and same again, giving you a cross.

My son gets me some chestnut 'pliers' from Seoul when he goes there, it has one smooth cutting blade and one serrated, which is just the job. they are very cheap and proper market stall stuff.

I don't know where you could source a pair of those.

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thanks, I'll watch the youtube links later today. I gave up last night, impossible the get the bitter woody skin off. I think I'll boil them today for a moment, see if the water helps loosen the skin. No idea what kind they are, what I got out tasted great so I think they are ripe and they are very fresh as far as I can tell. But I'll also go back to frozen pre peeled from now on.

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I don't know which varieties you have in the USA, but here in Europe chestnuts are divided into 2 main groups: "castagna" and "marrone" in Italian language, or "châtaigne" and "marron" in French language. I'm ignorant, but as far as I know both of them are translated as "chestnuts" in English language, never found a distinction between the two.

Castagna / châtaigne is usually smaller, tastier, there are 2 or 3 inside the shell, it's a real PITA to peel since the skin goes far deep into the flesh in a lot of zones; they are used mainly to prepare the chestnut flour or dried chestnuts.

Marrone / marron is usually bigger, less tasty, there is only 1 inside the shell, it's much easier to peel; they are used mainly to prepare marrons glaces, chestnut jam and all the other uses in pastry.

So if the ones you got were "castagna" and not "marrone", then there was not much you could do, peeling them is a nightmare. If you roast them then a good tip is putting them in a bowl (just after roasting) and cover them with a towel for some minutes, in this way the humidity will help a bit to detach the skin.

Teo

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thanks, I'll watch the youtube links later today. I gave up last night, impossible the get the bitter woody skin off. I think I'll boil them today for a moment, see if the water helps loosen the skin. No idea what kind they are, what I got out tasted great so I think they are ripe and they are very fresh as far as I can tell. But I'll also go back to frozen pre peeled from now on.

Boiling seems to be helpful: http://www.farminmypocket.co.uk/growing/wild-food/sweet-chestnuts (That entire site is well worth checking out, it has a lot of interesting and useful content).

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Here is my method, as described above. I do not cut an "x", instead I make an incision through the center of each chestnut. I found this helps make them easier to peel and assures they stay in one piece. Place them in 280ºF oil for a few seconds, just until you start to see them opening up. Remove from oil, let rest until cool enough to handle, but still warm, and the shell and skin both remove with ease.

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dfXaOqDl.png

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well, I had to give up, the outer shell came off just fine, but the inner skin did not budge. I boiled them the next day, thinking that might loosen the skin, no such luck. Stuck them back in the oven (peeled off the outer shell) to see if drying the skin would help now, nothing. I gnawed on a couple, but could not use them. Maybe they were too fresh? Not ripe enough? The skin was glued to the nut.

I'll stick with frozen ones, this was not a fun experiment and delivered no reward :-(

Oh well, thought it would be fun to eat with the kids, I loved them when I was little, but this was not worth it.

Interesting idea with the oil, probably won't try it, I don't have storage space for large amounts of used oil and would hate to throw it out, but it certainly seems to work great there!

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Did you buy the chestnuts at the farmers mkt? I suggest you ask the vendor about your problem the next time you go, and hear what they have to say. The times I've roasted chestnuts, I've never had a problem with the inner skin, nor have I heard of it as a problem, so I think your experience is unusual. Anybody else with ideas?

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On 10/23/2013 at 8:08 PM, mm84321 said:

Here is my method, as described above. I do not cut an "x", instead I make an incision through the center of each chestnut. I found this helps make them easier to peel and assures they stay in one piece. Place them in 280ºF oil for a few seconds, just until you start to see them opening up. Remove from oil, let rest until cool enough to handle, but still warm, and the shell and skin both remove with ease.

ZHqzNWsl.png
QmfIHGpl.png
dfXaOqDl.png

 

On 10/23/2013 at 8:24 PM, OliverB said:

well, I had to give up, the outer shell came off just fine, but the inner skin did not budge. I boiled them the next day, thinking that might loosen the skin, no such luck. Stuck them back in the oven (peeled off the outer shell) to see if drying the skin would help now, nothing. I gnawed on a couple, but could not use them. Maybe they were too fresh? Not ripe enough? The skin was glued to the nut.

I'll stick with frozen ones, this was not a fun experiment and delivered no reward 😞

Oh well, thought it would be fun to eat with the kids, I loved them when I was little, but this was not worth it.

Interesting idea with the oil, probably won't try it, I don't have storage space for large amounts of used oil and would hate to throw it out, but it certainly seems to work great there!

 

 

Oliver, you know whart to do:

 

 

C3BE31F8-6C1E-439B-A699-3DA02E6CE234.jpg

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I buy them pre-peeled and vacuum packed. "Let someone else struggle" is my motto.

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I used to, and by "used to" I mean maybe forty five years ago, make a dish called mont blanc.  Pureed candied chestnuts, with as I recall whipped cream.

 

For me, of all the things there are to eat, chestnuts have sort of lost their charm.

 

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I like them as a snack. I usually microwave. But they are a pain. I just get seduced by the super plump glossy ones in the Korean market. We tried one of those perforated specilized pans to use in the fireplace. Romantic notion that was a disaster in practice...

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4 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

For me, of all the things there are to eat, chestnuts have sort of lost their charm.

 Loved it when I was able to buy hot chestnuts on the street in Toronto. Perhaps you can still do that but I haven’t been on foot in Toronto in many, many years. 

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7 hours ago, Anna N said:

 Loved it when I was able to buy hot chestnuts on the street in Toronto. Perhaps you can still do that but I haven’t been on foot in Toronto in many, many years. 

 

I seem to recall there used to be a hot chestnut cart during the winter in Victoria BC that worked the downtown pedestrian areas. But I haven't lived there for ten years, not sure if such a thing is still around. And it wasn't there every year. Same with Vancouver, I know there were vendors now and then, but don't know if they are still around or not. I agree, it's a lovely option when you are out walking on a chilly (or cool, in BC) day. 

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On 10/23/2013 at 3:08 PM, mm84321 said:

Here is my method, as described above. I do not cut an "x", instead I make an incision through the center of each chestnut. I found this helps make them easier to peel and assures they stay in one piece.

 

Cutting a hole in chestnut is a good idea because chestnuts can explode under high heat.

 

dcarch

 

.


Edited by dcarch (log)
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This topic reminded me that we usually have a seasonal chesnut roaster vendor outside  one of the local Korean markets. I'll have to try to get down there. 

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