Roasted Northwest Chestnuts
In the shadow of Mount Baker and the neighboring Twin Sisters, lies a grove of trees harvesting our fresh chestnuts for the holidays. The Washington Chestnut Company is owned and operated by Bernie Hilgart and his family in Everson, Washington. Due to the cool growing season, these Northwest chestnuts are sweeter in flavor (similar to those found in the mountains of France and Italy) and stay on the tree longer than warmer areas. While warmer climate chestnuts fall from the tree weeks before the holiday season, our Washington chestnuts are harvested just in time for freshly picked nuts for the holidays. We’ll have these chestnuts in our stores through Christmas.
Visiting Bernie’s chestnut orchard is a festive experience, to say the least. The unique growing process of chestnuts displays other-worldly, stringy blooms and spikey burrs. In the final growing process, the ripe nut falls to the ground before being harvested. Chestnuts are known for their meaty flavor and can be incorporated into soups, casseroles and desserts.
To easily remove chestnuts from their skins, boil or roast them. Roasting chestnuts on an open fire is as nostalgic as it is delicious so here’s the simple process for open fire roasting that Nat King Cole would be proud of.
Roasted Chestnuts on an Open Fire
Note: Use extreme caution whenever cooking over open flame.
- Using a paring knife, cut an X onto the flat side of each chestnut. This eases the peeling process and prevents the chestnut from exploding during cooking.
- Place scored chestnuts in cold water for 15 minutes.
- Set soaked chestnuts on a pan (preferably with a long handle) and place into fire for about 15 minutes, rotating often until the shells have begun peeling back.
OVEN ALTERNATIVE: No open fire? No problem. Place soaked chestnuts on a placing sheet with the X side up and bake in a preheated 400° F oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until shells have begun peeling back.
- Wrap hot chestnuts in a towel and squeeze to crush the skins. Allow 5 minutes to cool then peel and enjoy!