If you have ever tried roasting and peeling chestnuts you might know how difficult and frustrating it can be. We've researched and experimented and figured out the easiest way to prepare chestnuts.
These meaty nuts have a hard outer shell and a thin inner shell.
The first step is to use a serrated knife and slice through both layers of shell across the middle of the nut on the rounder side. Place all of the scored nuts in a large pot with a lid.
Next, add a dash of salt and fill the pot with water until all of the chestnuts are covered. Put the lid on top and sit the pot over medium heat to bring it to a simmer. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F.
After the nuts have simmered for a couple of minutes, strain them out (I use a slotted spoon) and place them on a baking sheet. Bake them for 15 minutes.
When they're ready to come out of the oven, place them in a metal bowl then cover it with a towel folded in half so you have a double layer. Set the timer for 15 minutes. Get two bowls ready for work: one to collect meats and one to collect shells. Sometimes a nut pick is useful for the difficult ones.
Ding! Time to get to work! Leave the towel over the bowl and take out your cracked nuts one at a time. Hopefully you get an easy one where both shell layers come right off. If not, put it back in the bowl. Take care of all the easy to peel nuts first then go back with the nut pick and take care of the tougher ones.
We like to freeze our nutmeats. When we want to eat them, I fry them in butter or coconut oil. They're especially tasty if you add a dash of salt once they're on your plate.
The American chestnut was once an abundant food source in North America, but now they have trouble growing due to a disease. We planted some Chinese chestnuts which are disease resistant in our yard. They can be pruned to stay smaller (and easier to harvest!) like a bush.
If you harvest nuts from the tree, wait until the prickly protective coat opens to know the nuts are ready.