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How to Roast Chestnuts

How to Roast Chestnuts

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Here are some instructions and tips on How to Roast Chestnuts in three different ways, by grilling, baking or boiling them.

The Chestnuts (castanea sativa), called KAH-stah-nah in Greek, is the only European species of chestnuts and they are native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.

Chestnuts in a bowl image

The chestnut tree produces a fruit with the same name, which is a popular Fall fruit, which ripens towards the end of September and we can find it in the markets until late November, depending on the variety.

spiny chestnut burrs image

They ripen in a spiny husk, called burr and when it opens, it is a sign that the fruit is ready to harvest.

As many as seven chestnuts can develop in a burr, depending on the variety of chestnut tree.

History

Chestnuts were a valuable food for millennia. From various archaeological findings, we know that chestnuts have been known in Greece since the Bronze Age.

Chestnuts have been a valued food source in many cultures, notably those of China, Korea, Japan and the Mediterranean, and have been cultivated for more than 6,000 years in China and 3,000 years in Europe, according to Richard Litz, author of the book “Biotechnology of Fruit and Nut Crops.”

The ancient Greeks deemed chestnuts superior to walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts (yes they were known in ancient times!!).

The Greek name “kastsanon”(chestnut), is quite later because in ancient times it was known by various names such as “Zeus Acorn”, “Euboean (of Evia island) Walnuts”, “Lupins” or “Sardinian Acorn”.

Chestnuts were the main food of the inhabitants of the mountainous areas.  They were a great supplement to their diet, or in some cases, a complete meal.

Xenophon referred to the sweet chestnut tree as “the bread tree” because the fruit could replace both bread and meat.

Every Tuesday there is a “Laiki” (“farmers’ market”) which is an open air fruit and vegetable market near my house and I usually buy fruit and vegetables to last for a week.

Last Tuesday I bought some chestnuts, intending to make a chestnut gateau but unfortunately I fell and strained my ankle and now I have to postpone this dessert for another time.

Well, the easiest thing to do with them now is to roast and eat them.

Chestnuts are a delicious treat, either roasted or cooked in soups or other recipes, and have significant nutritional value.

Nutritional value

Chestnuts have been a valued food source in many cultures, notably those of China, Korea, Japan and the Mediterranean, and have been cultivated for more than 6,000 years in China and 3,000 years in Europe, according to Richard Litz, author of the book “Biotechnology of Fruit and Nut Crops”.

Greeks deemed the chestnut superior to almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts. Chestnuts are a delicious treat, either roasted or cooked in soups or other recipes, and have considerable nutritional value.

Chestnuts have medicinal and other properties. They have several calories (370 by 100 grams), contain 48% water, many mineral salts.

They are a good source of protein (they contain essential amino acids not synthesized by themselves) and carbohydrates (45%, mainly starch).

In addition, chestnuts contain vitamins B1 and B2, necessary for the conversion of foods into energy and for the smooth functioning of the nervous system, as well as vitamin C (boosts the immune system) and folic acid (necessary for the production of red blood cells).

Chestnuts are also good in calcium (for the transmission of nerve impulses and to strengthen bones and teeth), magnesium (antidepressant and essential for hair health), phosphorus (for bones and eyesight), iron , sodium and potassium.

Chestnut, raw or roasted, is a complete food, ideal for children in development, for those recovering from various diseases, such as severe diarrhea, as well as for athletes.

Although chestnut is classified as nuts, the edible portion of the fruit is soft and characterized by a high starch content, twice the potato, more like cereal than dry fruit.

Chestnuts are known for their protective action on the cardiovascular and their contribution to the good functioning of the intestine as a cereal substitute.

They are also a good source of potassium, which is essential for regulating blood pressure, heart rate and aquatic balance.

How to use chestnuts

Chestnuts can be eaten raw or cooked. They can be enjoyed in a variety of ways such as roasted, boiled, mashed, preserved or candied. 

How to roast chestnuts

Chestnuts are a great dish, whether raw or roasted. We can use them in foods and sweets.

If you do not have a fireplace or barbecue, you can bake them in the oven or even boil them.

Many bake it in the microwave, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Boiling chestnuts

Put them in a pot with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook for about 25 – 30 minutes, until soft.

boiling chestnuts image

Roasting in the oven

Chestnuts are best grilled over an open fire but if you cannot grill them, you can bake them in the oven.

Chestnuts roasting image

Make an X slot with a sharp knife and place in a baking tin, the slot facing up, to allow steam to escape. This will prevent the chestnuts from bursting.

scoring chestnuts image

Place in a baking tray, large enough to have one layer of chestnuts, without overcrowding them.

Put the slotted side facing up, to allow steam to escape. This will prevent the chestnuts from bursting.

Roast them in a preheated to 180 degrees C / 350 F oven until they are tender and easy to peal, for about 25 – 30 minutes until they split open.

Let the chestnuts cool for a while in order to be able to handle them but they are best peeled while still hot.

Chestnuts revealing inner skin image

Peel the shells and the pellicle from the nuts before eating.

chestnut peeled image

Other ways to roast the chestnuts

You can either roast them on an electric grill or on an open fire.

First method, electric grill:

  1. Preheat your grill to 200o C /400o F. 
  2. Place the chestnuts directly on the cooking grate.
  3. If the chestnuts can fall through the cooking grate, place them in a grill basket, grill wok, or in a pie tin with holes punched into the bottom.
  4. Cook them for about 15 minutes, turning them around frequently, so that they are cooked evenly.

Roasting chestnuts over an open fire:

Who doesn’t like the aroma of roasted chestnuts, especially if we bake them in the fireplace.

Fireplace Chestnuts roasting image

If you have a fireplace, wait until the wood becomes charcoal.  Move the coal around so there is a bed of glowing coals upon which the grill can rest.

I use a two sided grill, which can stand on both sides.  Turn them over regularly, as above, until they roast evenly.

Roasting chestnujts on the fireplace image
roasting chestnuts and corn on the cob image

How to Roast Chestnuts

Yield: 1 kilo
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Estimated Cost: 3 - 5 Euros

Here are some instructions and tips on How to Roast Chestnuts in three different ways, by grilling, baking or boiling them.

Materials

  • Chestnuts

Tools

  • Sharp knife
  • cutting board
  • Charcoal or wood
  • Briquettes and lighter
  • Bbq, oven, Grill or pot with water
  • tongs

Instructions

How to start

  1. Rinse the chestnuts.
  2. Place the nut on its flat side.
  3. Make a slot with a sharp knife on the rounded side, either crosswise or just horizontally.

Boiling chestnuts

  1. After scoring the chestnuts, put them in a pot with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook them for about 25 - 30 minutes, until soft. Peel them while they are hot. If the inner shell does not come out easily, have a kettle with hot water. Put some water in a bowl and soak the chestnuts for 4 - 5 minutes.

Roasting in the oven

  1. Place in a baking tray, large enough to have one layer of chestnuts, without overcrowding them.
  2. Put the slotted side facing up, to allow steam to escape. This will prevent the chestnuts from bursting.
  3. Roast for 30 minutes until they split open.
  4. Let the chestnuts cool for a while in order to be able to handle them but they are best peeled while still hot.
  5. Peel the shells and the pellicle from the nuts before eating.

Other ways to roast the chestnuts

  1. You can either roast them on an electric grill or on an open fire.

First method, electric grill:

  1. Preheat your grill to 200o C /400o F. 
  2. Place the chestnuts directly on the cooking grate.
  3. If the chestnuts can fall through the cooking grate, place them in a grill basket, grill wok, or in a pie tin with holes punched into the bottom.
  4. Cook them for about 15 minutes, turning them around frequently, so that they are cooked evenly.

Roasting chestnuts over an open fire:

  1. If you have a fireplace, wait until the wood becomes charcoal.  Move the coal around so there is a bed of glowing coals upon which the grill can rest.
  2. I use a two sided grill, which can stand on both sides.  Turn them over regularly, as above, until they roast evenly.

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Chestnut Recipes

If you love chestnuts, check out some more recipes using chestnuts.

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Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!

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Mary

Sunday 30th of December 2012

Hi Ivy,

I don't have a nice open fire like you do for roasting chestnuts, but I do bake them in the oven. It's something we do once or twice a year to make chestnut stuffing for Thanksgiving and Christmas. II've never seen the chestnuts with the spiky green outer layer still on them, I didn't know that they looked like that from the tree. I also didn't know the inner membrane was called the 'pellicle.' So you've taught me a couple of new things today.

Ivy

Sunday 30th of December 2012

Hi Mary, I also used to bake them in the oven for years and they still are delicious. The spiky green outer layer is something you don't see even in Athens. You have to visit places where chestnuts grow and it should be sometime late in the summer, at least here in Greece, to be able to see them them on the tree.

Kevin

Tuesday 27th of November 2007

I recently tried roasting chestnuts for the first time. They were really good!

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