How to Tell If Chestnuts Are Fresh

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Chestnuts aren't commonly consumed in the United States, except around the holidays in stuffing or roasted whole. These starchy seeds of the sweet chestnut tree are best from October to December.

What to Look For

When you're buying chestnuts, examine their shape, texture and color.

  • Choose hard and shiny chestnuts without rotten spots or holes.
  • Shake chestnuts individually; any that rattle are not good for eating.
  • A fresh chestnut should feel heavy for its size.
  • Squeeze the chestnut and feel for a mild give between the outer shell and the meat inside. If you get no give, the nut needs to stand at room temperature to sweeten for several days. 

Signs of Spoilage

Chestnuts can get moldy or inedible and dry if they get too old. If you see signs of extreme mold, smell a rotten odor or have chestnuts that are as hard as concrete, they're not suitable for eating.

Storage

Store the chestnuts for 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator; take them out only to sweeten or roast. But they are best when eaten close to purchase.

If you do store them, lay them in a single layer in a vented area. Light spots of mold might start to develop in the form of white or black spots, but it doesn't mean you have to discard the whole batch. Wash the nuts immediately and dip them in water mixed with a few drops of bleach. Dry them and return them to the flat surface with more space between the nuts. Close proximity encourages mold growth.

Warning

  • Do not place fresh chestnuts in a plastic bag to store. This encourages mold growth and quick deterioration of the nuts.

Rinse all chestnuts under running water and dry thoroughly before roasting.

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