How to Eat a Raw Chestnut. You can eat them raw, but they may cause gastrointestinal distress due to the high content of tannic acid. They're almost impossible to peel without softening the shell first, and they taste much better cooked. However, if you must try a raw chestnut, here's how to peel one.
Find a small, sharp knife and cut an "X" shape on the flat side of the chestnut. Only cut through the tough shell and not the nut itself. This may be difficult to do because of the rounded shape of the nut, but one side is somewhat flat and it's usually easier to make the cuts on that side.
Remove the shell completely, revealing the pellicle. This is the thin layer of skin covering the meat of the chestnut.
Peel the pellicle from the meat of the chestnut. If the nut is roasted or boiled, the pellicle slides off easily, but when it's raw or of poor quality, it can be quite a challenge.
Taste the raw chestnut. Remember that the best way to eat raw chestnuts is to soak them in lukewarm water for about 20 minutes to soften the shell, use your paring knife to remove the shell and pellicle, and then roast them in a hot oven. You'll have better tasting chestnuts, and you'll have the pleasure of smelling the wonderful aroma of chestnuts roasting.
Store chestnuts in the refrigerator's vegetable drawer for up to a week. Buy chestnuts that are plump, heavy for their size and free of blemishes.