Chestnuts roasting on an open fire is an image that most of us are familiar with thanks to the popular holiday song, but the small nut is more than a simple holiday snack. Chestnuts have hardly any fat, are low in calories and are a significant source of vitamin C. You can enjoy the nuts themselves after drying or frying them, grind them into flour for breads and other baked goods, or candy them for a sweet snack or dessert. By preserving fresh chestnuts, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of the chestnut all year.
Dry chestnuts for extended storage. You can dry chestnuts shelled or unshelled, but shelled chestnuts will dry faster.
Set a dehydrator to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and dry shelled chestnuts for two days or unshelled chestnuts for three days. Unlike dried fruits or vegetables, dried chestnuts will be very hard when they're done.
Store dried chestnuts in a cupboard for up to two months. When you’re ready to use them, reconstitute them in water overnight. This will soften the nuts and make it easy to add them to a variety of meals.
Freeze chestnuts by placing whole or shelled chestnuts in sealable freezer bags and storing in the freezer.
Keep freshly frozen chestnuts for three months and chestnuts that are dried and then frozen for up to one year.
Reconstitute dried and frozen chestnuts in water for four to six hours before using. Freshly frozen chestnuts need only be thawed before use. Chestnuts frozen without being dried first can be cooked in a variety of different recipes.
Can chestnuts to store at room temperature, rather than freezing. Canned chestnuts need to be shelled and dried first, for about half the time of a full drying process, or one day in a dehydrator set at 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add the chestnuts fresh from the dryer to small canning jars and process in a boiling water canner for best results. The water should come to about an inch below the lids of the jars.
Process for 30 minutes and let cool before putting the jars of chestnuts into storage. Canned chestnuts keep for up to six months.
- Use a bucket or large bowl filled with water to sort out bad chestnuts before using them in dishes or preserving. The good chestnuts will sink to the bottom of the container, while rotten or moldy chestnuts float.
- Chestnuts can spoil quickly if not properly preserved. Follow your preservation method of choice within 24 to 48 hours of harvesting the chestnuts for the best results.
Melissa Hamilton began writing professionally in 2007. She has enjoyed cooking creatively in the kitchen from a young age. In addition to writing cooking articles for various publications, she currently works in the restaurant industry as a food and beverage trainer.