Magazine article Sunset

Fresh and Frozen Chestnuts

Magazine article Sunset

Fresh and Frozen Chestnuts

Article excerpt

About 100 years ago, a blight destroyed most American chestnut trees, but now they're coming back. Small orchards in Washington, Oregon, and California have begun to harvest crops. The nuts go to farmers' markets or to retail stores, where they're sold alongside imported fresh chestnuts.

I love the fresh nuts, but peeling is a chore. A simple solution is to buy them peeled. More than ever before, I'm finding them frozen, from France and Italy, in fancy supermarkets. I've even found chestnuts on the shelf, vacuumpacked. The frozen have the freshest flavor, but both kinds taste better than chestnuts canned in water.

Fresh chestnuts are very perishable and should be refrigerated. They should feel heavy; if they're light and soft, don't buy them.

Fresh, frozen, or vacuum-packed, chestnuts cook delectably in this dish.

Chestnuts with Grapes

Prep and cook time: 40 to 50 minutes Notes: If using fresh chestnuts, cut an X through shell on flat side. Immerse in boiling water and simmer 10 minutes. Drain, and while nuts are warm and wet, pull off shell and dark membrane with a small knife.

Serve with meats, the way you would potatoes.

Makes: 6 to 8 servings 4 cups (about 1 1/3 lb.) peeled chestnuts 3 cups seedless green grapes About 3 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth 1/4 pound Italian sausage 1 to 2 teaspoons butter or olive oil 1. …

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