How to Peel Chestnuts

Chestnuts are widely used in Azerbaijani cuisine, especially in Rice Pilaffs. They make a perfect snack when roasted, too. Here’s how you peel them to use in your recipes.

1. There are two methods you can choose from to treat the chestnuts before peeling them.

Option 1: With a sharp knife, cut an “X” on the flat side of each chestnut (Picture 1). Once you have penetrated the leather-like shell, it will feel hollow. Do not penetrate the nut itself.

Option 2: Another method is to cut off the flat bottom of the chestnut, as shown in the Picture 2. I usually use this method. Typically, this is what we do in Azerbaijan. Go with whichever method feels safer because you are dealing with a knife and chestnut peel is not a soft type.

2. Fill the pan with water and drop scored chestnuts into it. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes (times will vary depending on how the chestnuts are. The harder the shell, the longer they will cook. New chestnuts take shorter to boil). Remove from heat. Keep chestnuts in warm water for easier peeling.

3. Take one chestnut at a time and using a knife or your fingers start peeling beginning from the scored section to remove the outer shell, then the inner shell, which is usually harder to peel. If a chestnut is difficult to peel, drop it back into the pot with hot water to loosen the shells. If you still cannot get rid of the inner shell (it can be frustrating sometimes, but don’t panic!), just peel off some nut skin thinly with the shell. Do not forget to discard any bad (moldy) chestnuts.

4. Use the peeled chestnuts as directed in the recipe, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to one to two months . You can also store them in your freezer for up to a year!


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  1. Chestnuts in rice pilaffs sound pretty da gone good!

    I don’t think that I have ever had Azerbaijani cuisine. I want to try though!


  2. It’s so great to enjoy chestnuts with some friends!

  3. I also advise to put peeled chesnuts in a bowl of water with yellow ginger spice (sarikok) till you finish peeling off all chesnuts. By doing this you’ll get that nice colour of your chesnuts, which look really good in your dish.

  4. dear farida, can you teach me to cook lamb testicles. I tried them once in restaurant Baku in New York and finally found the market that will sell it to me. I just have no idea how to prepare them. thank you!

  5. I have trouble peeling chestnut skin, upper shell comes easily but shell inside not coming as easy. Also, I tried to microwave for 2 minutes sometimes it works

  6. Got the hard shell off the the chestnut but how do I get the inner brown skin off?

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