As it’s been a while since I’ve posted, I’ve been battling and still am with technology. Hopefully, we will be running smoothly soon. We have come around to chestnut season again, I thought I would repost this article. It is exactly 2 years since it first appeared on Robyns Seasonal Kitchen.
As I delight in the months of March to July being the chestnut season, I recall it has only been relatively recent that chestnuts have been generally available in Australia. I certainly didn’t grow up with them being on our family menu.
My first encounter was when I was living in London, our office had been invited to the local Barclays Bank in High Street Kensington for Christmas drinks. The whole evening had a rather Dickensian feel to it, a dark foggy, misty evening, the servers were dressed in period costume as we consumed mulled wine and roasted chestnuts. I’m sure there were other delights but they don’t fit this story, so will stay in my memories for now.
After that evening I began to notice the chestnut roasters, quite commonly on street corners throughout the winter months. One pound for a paper cone if I recall correctly.
Travel forward quite a few years (the one pound price tag might give you an indication of just how many years forward we have travelled). Chestnuts are now available in many good fresh produce stores, the permanent markets in Melbourne: Queen Victoria, South Melbourne and Prahran, along with many of our Farmers markets.
Chestnuts are very unique in being the only nut that needs to be cooked before eating and the texture when roasted, according to http://www.chestnutsaustralia.com.au is that of a firm roast potato. I think they are spot on with this description. Chestnuts Australia is a wealth of information noting that although trees have been in Australia since the mid-1800’s originally thought to have been imported by Chinese immigrants, they are well known to grace the tables of many Mediterranean countries, but only grown commercially in Australia for the last 12 years or so.
You must make a slit on the nut prior to roasting, a laborious task so I was terribly excited when I found my latest gadget a ‘chestnut cutter’ this luscious red made in Italy tool has made preparing chestnuts so much quicker and easier.
Chestnuts are best eaten within 3 weeks of being picked, make sure they are not too soft to the touch as this could mean they are a little old and won’t roast as well, your local provider will generally let you know.
To simply roast your chestnuts:
1 kg of nuts will yield about 700gram when shelled
Carefully cut once just through the skin, some people like to do a cross which can make for easier peeling
Place in a single layer on an oven tray
Roast at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes.
You will know they are done as the skin will begin to peel back from where you have made the cut, peel whilst still warm as they are very difficult to peel once cold.