Did you know that chestnuts are high in vitamin C? They are also low in fat and highly nutritious, as well as high in fiber. But the chestnut growing season doesn’t last too long, so if you want to enjoy these tasty treats all year round, you’ll have to learn how to store them correctly.
The easiest way to store chestnuts is to remove the outer husk, clean and dry them, put them in a plastic bag, poke a few holes in the bag, and store them in the fridge for up to one month.
You can usually collect chestnuts around September and October in the Northern Hemisphere. Make sure that you only collect those chestnuts that have fallen to the ground and whose burrs are partially open. This indicates that the chestnuts are ripe.
Here are ten easy ways to store chestnuts correctly.
1. Store Them In Sand
After you’ve collected all the chestnuts that you want to store, you first have to remove their prickly outer casing to reveal the lovely shiny nuts beneath. Be sure to discard any chestnuts that have wormholes in them.
Storing them in the sand means that any moisture will be absorbed, and the chestnuts are unlikely to go moldy.
You can keep your chestnuts fresh by storing them in the sand. To do that:
- Find a wooden box or large plastic container with a lid.
- Put a layer of fine sand in the bottom. Make sure that the sand is perfectly dry.
- Lay the chestnuts on the sand and make sure they’re reasonably well spaced and in only one layer.
- Cover the chestnuts with another layer of sand.
- Lay another row of chestnuts on the sand and continue this layering process until you’ve placed all your chestnuts in the container or the container is full.
- Be sure to place a final layer of sand on top of the chestnuts and put the lid on.
- Store this in a cool, dry place.
- Chestnuts stored this way will keep for up to two months.
2. Store Them In Refrigerator For Up To One Month
To store your chestnuts in the fridge, do the following:
- Remove the outer prickly layer from the chestnuts you’ve collected.
- Make sure the chestnuts are clean and dry.
- Put them into a plastic bag.
- Poke a few holes in the bag for good airflow to stop them from drying out. It’s important not to store chestnuts in a sealed bag or airtight container because they’ll go moldy.
- Place this in the refrigerator into the vegetable storage bin.
You can store fresh chestnuts in the refrigerator for up to one month.
3. Store Your Chestnuts In The Freezer For Up To 6 Months
If you want to store your chestnuts for up to 6 months, you can freeze them as follows:
- Remove the outer husk.
- Make sure that the chestnuts are clean and dry.
- Place the chestnuts in an airtight container or a ziplock bag.
- Alternatively, you can vacuum seal your chestnuts.
- Place them in the freezer.
4. How To Store Chestnuts Using The Italian “Novena Method”
If you use this traditional Italian method of preparing chestnuts, you can store them in the refrigerator for around three months. Here’s what to do:
- Soak the raw chestnuts in water for nine days.
- Change the water every day and discard any chestnuts that float to the surface.
- After nine days, take the remaining chestnuts out of the water and dry them carefully.
- Place these chestnuts into a jute bag or wooden box.
- Put this into the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
5. Store Boiled Chestnuts In The Freezer
Boiled chestnuts will only last a couple of days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. But to store them longer, you can freeze chestnuts. To freeze chestnuts:
- Remove the prickly outer husks from the chestnuts and score a cross into the rounded side of each one.
- Boil the chestnuts for around 40 minutes.
- Peel your chestnuts while they’re still warm, as this will make it easier.
- Allow them to cool to room temperature.
- Wrap the cooked chestnuts in aluminum foil and then pop this into a freezer bag.
- Place this into the freezer. They should store this way for several months.
6. How To Store Roasted Chestnuts
Roasted chestnuts can be stored in their shells in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for several months. If you vacuum pack them before placing them in the freezer, it helps to increase their storage time.
Alternatively, you can shell the roasted chestnuts and wrap them in aluminum foil. Then place them into a freezer or ziplock back and put them in the freezer. Once again, vacuum sealing your chestnuts will definitely help to improve their shelf life.
To roast chestnuts, do the following:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).
- Cut a cross into the rounded side of each chestnut. This allows the steam to escape because chestnuts have a high moisture content.
- Spread your chestnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet or shallow roasting tray with the crosses facing up.
- Place the chestnuts in the oven for around 15 to 20 minutes to roast them.
- When you take them out, the shells should have burst open, and you’ll be able to see the pale flesh inside.
Some people recommend that you soak your chestnuts first before roasting them as this helps to speed up the cooking process and will also stop them from burning.
- To do this, make a cross in the outer shell and place the chestnuts in cold water for 30 minutes or hot water for 1 minute. Make sure that you pat them dry before placing them into the oven.
Remember that chestnuts are easier to peel when they’re warm, so try to peel them as soon as they are comfortable enough to handle. Also, make sure that you peel chestnuts off the inner skin as well as the outer shell.
7. Dehydrating Chestnuts For Storage
Dehydrating your chestnuts means that you can store them for around two months. Here’s what to do:
- Set the temperature of your dehydrator to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).
- Place the chestnuts in a single layer on the individual trays.
- Dry your shelled chestnuts for 2 days and unshelled chestnuts for 3 days.
- Store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
To rehydrate dried chestnuts, soak them in water overnight. Alternatively, you can rehydrate your chestnuts by simmering them in water for around an hour. Rehydrated chestnuts are perfect to use in cooking.
8. How To Store Chestnuts In Alcohol
Another way to store chestnuts is by preserving them in alcohol. Once preserved, your chestnuts will keep for around 12 months in their sealed jars in the pantry. While this storage method is not for everyone and does require a little preparation, it’s a great way to preserve chestnuts to either enjoy as an after-dinner snack with coffee or to give away as a special gift for someone close.
Remember that once you open the sealed jar, you should keep the chestnuts in the fridge and consume them within a month.
Here’s a great recipe for preserving chestnuts in alcohol:
- 3 cups of caster sugar
- 1 ¾ cups of water
- 1 split vanilla bean (make sure you remove the seeds first)
- 6 cloves
- Juice and rind of 1 orange (you can use lemon or lime instead or a mixture of two or all three)
- 1 cup of cinnamon whisky (you can also use other alcohol such as rum or cognac and even add a splash of a flavored liqueur of your choice)
- Roasted and peeled chestnuts
- Put the caster sugar, water, vanilla bean, cloves, orange juice, rind, and ¾ of the cup of whisky into a saucepan.
- Stir over low heat until all the sugar has dissolved.
- Increase the heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to simmer for around 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove the mixture from the heat.
- Stir in the remaining ¼ cup of whisky (or whichever alcohol you’re using).
- Pack the peeled and roasted chestnuts into some sterilized glass jars.
- Pour the warm syrup over the chestnuts, making sure that they’re completely covered.
- Put on the lids and make sure that they’re sealed tightly.
- Store your sealed jars of chestnuts in the pantry for around 12 months.
- If you can’t wait that long to try them, make sure that you leave the chestnuts in sealed jars for at least 15 days before trying them. This allows the chestnuts enough preservation time and to be infused with alcoholic syrup.
- Once you open a jar, make sure that you keep it in the refrigerator and consume the chestnuts within a month from opening. Make sure when storing them in the fridge that the chestnuts remain covered with the syrup.
Chestnuts preserved in alcohol can be enjoyed on their own as an after-dinner treat with coffee, but they are also delicious when served with ice cream or fruit salad.
9. Make A Chestnut Puree
If you like the idea of adding the lovely flavor of chestnuts to your homemade desserts, pies, and cakes, why not consider making a chestnut puree? It’s quite easy to do, and you can store it in sterilized jars in the pantry for many months. A jar of chestnut puree also makes a lovely gift for that special friend or a family member.
Here’s how to make a lovely batch of chestnut puree:
- 12 ounces of peeled and roasted chestnuts
- 1 ½ cups of water
- ¾ cup of caster sugar
- 1 split vanilla bean with seeds removed
- In a saucepan, put the peeled and roasted chestnuts, water, caster sugar, and the vanilla bean as well as the seeds.
- Stir the mixture over medium-high heat until all the sugar has dissolved.
- Let the mixture simmer for around 25 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
- Remove the vanilla bean and discard.
- Strain the liquid from the chestnuts but make sure that you reserve the syrup.
- In a food processor, place the chestnuts and 2 tablespoons of the reserved syrup.
- Process until smooth. You might need to add a little extra syrup so that the mixture forms into a smooth paste.
- Put the chestnut puree into sterilized jars and seal tightly.
- Store the puree in the pantry.
- Once opened, you should store the puree in the refrigerator.
10. Make Chestnut Liqueur
Another thing that you can do if you have an oversupply of chestnuts and don’t want to waste all that goodness is to make a chestnut liqueur. Not only will this preserve your chestnuts in the alcohol, but the liqueur itself will make a lovely addition to sweet treats, or you can simply pour it over ice cream and enjoy the lovely nutty flavor.
Here’s how to make chestnut liqueur:
- 1 pound of chestnuts
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup of water
- 2 cups of brandy
- Boil the chestnuts first in plenty of water and then peel them.
- In a saucepan, place the boiled and peeled chestnuts and the ¾ cup of water.
- Gently cook over low heat for around 10 minutes with the saucepan covered.
- Take off the heat and remove the chestnuts from the water.
- Place the sugar into the warm water and stir until dissolved.
- Return the chestnuts into the saucepan and cook over low heat for another five minutes uncovered.
- Remove from the heat and strain the chestnuts, making sure to reserve the syrup.
- Place the chestnuts into sterilized jars.
- Divide the remaining syrup between the jars using a fine sieve to strain it.
- Top the jars with the brandy.
- Place the lids on the jars and seal tightly.
Now you can store the chestnuts in their liqueur in the pantry. Make sure you leave the jars sealed for at least two weeks so that the flavor develops fully. Now you have both preserved chestnuts that you can eat and also a chestnut liqueur that you can use in your cooking.
Remember to store any opened jars in the refrigerator.