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German Christmas Gifts - Blog

How to Roast Christmas Chestnuts Like They Do in New York City.

Posted by Douglas Gray on

How to roast Christmas Chestnuts like they do in New York City is easy and simple. The very first thing you should do is acquire some chestnuts. The nut itself should be hard and shiny. If there are any soft spots or holes on them then they may be invested with insects and should not be used or eaten. Each chestnut should also be shaken. If the nut is loose on the interior of the shell, again is should not be used. All chestnuts that are to be roasted should be solid.


If the chestnuts are ripe they will already have an opening in the burr covering. This prickly covering should be removed before you proceed. Then all of the chestnuts should be washed. At this time inspect each nut. Remember the nut is the seed of a tree and many will have sprouts on them. It is believed that any chestnut with a sprout longer than 2 inches has a different flavor to it that is not preferred. For this reason any nut with long sprouts should be discarded. The ones with shorter sprouts should have the sprouts removed and then washed.


To prevent an explosion of the nuts, each one must be scored. This is the place where the expanding nut will open up. If not an uncontrolled break will occur and you just might have flying hot nuts where you are roasting your chestnuts. 

German Nut Pyramid

The next procedure will help to determine which of your chestnuts are good or are old and dry. The good chestnuts have a tendency to sink to the bottom. The older dried out ones will float. Remove any floaters for the best possible results. The chestnuts should be allowed to soak in the water for at least an hour. Many people also add salt to the water before the soak process commences. After they soak they have to be naturally dried.


Once the chestnuts have dried, they are ready to be roasted. Tradition says you can roast them over an open fire. If you decide to follow that, remember you will have an uncontrolled temperature and that could affect the final outcome. Most people today use an oven to roast them. This allows for the best possible result to occur.


With an oven set at 400F the chestnuts should be arranged on a baking sheet with the score facing upwards if possible. The roasting process takes between 15 and 30 minutes. The chestnuts are done when the shell begins to peel back. Because of this, they should be constantly checked while in the oven. Once the chestnuts are done roasting they should be allowed to cool before the shell is removed. 


This is how most people roast chestnuts today. On some street corners in NY they also use hot pebbles to roast chestnuts along with open skillets so people can enjoy the aroma as they are enjoying this holiday treat.