This weekend, the kids were really starting to get into the Christmas spirit. My husband dragged out the boxes of decorations and the kids found last year’s Christmas cards. They cut out their favourite images to make ornaments to decorate their mini Christmas trees.
Not quite ready to plunge headfirst into the Christmas season, I dipped my toe in by roasting chestnuts. If you’ve never roasted chestnuts before, I recommend giving them a try. The nuts are sweet and a good source of vitamins and minerals. Unlike other nuts, chestnuts are not a good source of healthy fats or protein but they’re surprisingly high in Vitamin C. I love the smell of roasted chestnuts as it lingers throughout the house.
Chestnuts should be treated more like vegetables than nuts – keep them in the fridge to keep them from going rancid. And buyer beware – you can’t tell a fresh nut from a mouldy nut without cracking it open so don’t bother picking them up from a bargain bin – lesson learned!
As pretty as the nuts look in my son’s hands, they weren’t edible. When we broke them apart, they were either mouldy or rock hard. I picked up another handful of nuts at the store for a second try. I cooked them alongside the pizza last night and they were better. But still, about a quarter of them were not good.
Next time I buy them, I’ll ask the grocer a few questions first about their storage before wasting my money. I’m sure I would have had better luck at a higher quality grocery store or a specialty store.
Nevertheless, roasted chestnuts make a great treat to eat while watching Christmas movies – last night, we caught the first half of Home Alone before bedtime.
Preheat the oven to 425. While it’s preheating, cut a little slit in each chestnut. Don’t be lazy on this, if you don’t pierce the nuts, they will explode in your oven and make a huge mess. (Does this sound like a lesson learned? It is – but this was a lesson learned years ago in another oven.)
Place the pierced nuts on a cookie sheet and roast them for about 20 minutes in the oven. Let them cool before cracking into them.
Peel off the outer shell and any skin covering the light brown nut. They should be soft and starchy when you bite into them. If they’re hard or you see mouldy patches, discard them.
Hopefully you’ll have better luck than I did finding fresh chestnuts at a store near you. If you do, let me know how and where you found them. Enjoy!