Saturday, 18 June 2011


Chestnuts are definitely a new adventure for me. They're low GI (54). Well, crushed, uncooked chestnut kernels are. I'm all for the low GI concept- by why test the raw product when they're almost always eaten cooked? Makes no sense to me.

I've eaten the very occasional chestnut product. But only really in the past year or two, when curiosity began to take over. And then they generally probably weren't all that healthy, or low GI.

Well, this chestnut yoghurt in Paris could well have been.

More like a mousse in texture, it was fabulous

But the Mont Blancs at Angelina's probably weren't

Very good for the disposition though
And I'd certainly never tried applying any heat to a chestnut in the safety of my own home. It seemed like a rather complicated thing to do. After all they can explode:

I didn't certainly want exploding chestnuts all over the house. Luck was with me, and I found a brochure put out by the chestnut growers, explaining how to cook the little blighters, without risk of explosion. I mustn't be the only nervous nellie about cooking chestnuts! I took advice from my facebook brains trust too. 

Only 3 steps. Cut. Cook. Peel. I could probably do this. Still I found the brochure a bit light on details. When you haven't cut a chestnut before, you don't really know what cutting the inner skin feels like. I was planning to try a few different methods of cooking, but it turned out that I hadn't bought enough to fully experiment. So I decided to microwave them. 

My glossy brochure just said to microwave on high for 2-3 minutes in a covered container (to reduce mess in case of explosion I imagine). But it didn't say whether to put water in or not. So I tried 4 in my microwave steamer without water. Not a good idea!

Hard nubbins of inedible chestnut, and showing the furry inner layer of the shell

I could peel them easily enough- another danger my brains trust had alerted me to. But the insides were hard, inedible nubbins of chestnut. So I tried two with water in the steamer- and success! They were edible. I got rather carried away and steamed my remaining chestnuts in several batches. Which was fine to cook them, but the peeling took a toll. They do become harder to peel as they cool, and I learnt that chestnut peel jamming up under your finger nails is a rather exquisite torture.

Stages of chestnut peeling
 Enquiring minds need to know more about unfamiliar ingredients so I cut one in half. And was strangely unsettled. I had flashbacks to my student years, and time spent in the pathology lab.

Cerebellum anyone?

Still, in the end the effort paid off. And I was left with enough chestnut meat to make my soup. Which was the reason for the whole exercise. In my inexperienced hands, with a bit of wastage, the 500 gm I bought, ended up giving me about 240 gm.

And as a happy byproduct of all this chestnutting today I remembered a secret stash in the pantry. A treasure brought home from France last year. Happily still in date! Although I'm probably back in the non-low GI chestnut product here.

French chestnut honey pearls- they're delicious!

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.


  1. Great post! I love chestnuts. Over here in winter we have those stalls in the city where they roast the chestnuts and you can buy small bags and eat them in the street. Also keeps your hands warm, :).
    Also we buy them in grocery shops and just roast them in the oven. I don't think there is much to worry about. As long as you cut them, even if a bit too deep, they will turn out perfectly.

  2. Chestnuts are something I have never eaten. At least, I don't think I have. I only know them from the song - "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire . . ." The song doesn't sing of exploding nuts.

  3. Hi!
    I've never eaten chestnuts but I've heard they are delicious. Have a great day!

    Just Books

  4. I adore chestnuts and the peeling (the work) involved before eating is part of the fun. I buy them by the pound every week or so throughout the fall. I rarely cook with them, just eat them as is.

    I've baked them, but I too now use the microwave method. So yummy. My husband isn't as crazy about them as I am. Oh darn, more for me.

  5. I can't help it: we had fresh chestnuts with WORMS once and now I can't bring myself to trying them again.. :( Hope this doesn't put you off! LOL Enjoy your chestnuts!

  6. I had my affair with chestnuts a few winters ago. It was fun though the peeling was difficult.