"There's no mistake, I smell that smell. It's that time of year again."
That's right. Autumn is definitely upon us once the sweet chestnuts start falling. It's my favourite thing about this season. I love going out and having a tummage beneath the chestnut tree finding some absolute beauties. Although they don't come close in size to their continental cousins, UK grown chestnuts are just as delicious. Once you've donned your thick rubber gloves and get opening them shells you can easilly gather 2kgs in an hour on your own, or faster with the kids involved. The largest nuts tend to fall out of the tree before the casin does or bounce thrugh the grass once the casing has hit the ground so make sure you look through the grass for them!
Over the years I've perfected my way of storing chestnuts and I've had great success with keeping chestnuts in the fridge from October to the following July with very little spoilage. Here's how:
Get there early! Pick the fresh nuts as soon as the fall from the tree and plan what you're going to do with them as soon as you get home. Don't leave them hanging about too long or they'll start to either dry out or go mouldy through moisture.
Peel chestnuts you plan to freeze. The way I peel these beauties is by taking a sharp knife and slicing down through the skin, but not all the way through, at the "eye" end of the nut. Then peel back the skin from where you've cut. This way also gives you chance to check the nuts before storage. Discard any that feel sticky, soft, are overly darkened, have holes or mould, or have a boozy alcoholic smell to them. Don't worry, you'll easily detect the ones that are a bit off. Now place them in freezer bags, I usually measure about 250g per bag, and throw in the freezer.
These ones are great for popping in a stew or casserole. No need to pre-cook them.
Box em up! Once washed with cold water (don't submerge as this can make them go soft) place the nuts still in their shell in a small plastic box with a lid, lined with kitchen towel and place at the bottom and back of yur fridge. I've had nuts stay this way for around 8/9 months with very little spoilage. Check periodicaly for any mould or softness and replace the kitchen towel if it gets soggy.