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Nov 18, 2010 08:18 AM

Chestnuts -- how are the jarred ones?

Hi. I think I'm going to make this Glazed Chestnut with Haricots Verts recipe on Epicurious (see below), but I've never actually worked with those jarred pre-roasted chestnuts. Are they any good? Or rather, is one brand preferable to another? I live in the NYC area and these jars are ubiquitous at Whole Foods this time of year, though I've never tried any.

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  1. I have used ones from Williams Sonoma and they are great. I make a lentil soup with bacon and chestnuts and each chestnut is a wonderful treat. So sweet and good.

    I have seen lots of other brands around and am curious about those myself. I've also seen vacuum packed ones recently.

    1. The jarred ones are great and a real time and stress saver from buying fresh and the work that goes along with preping them. I saw a bag of fresh at my supermarket this week and almost succumbed, but the jarred ones are so much more approachable. Fresh are much cheaper, though.

      Get 'em from WF. I bet they're fine. Vacuum packed would be fresher than just jarred.

      1. I gave up trying to roast my own chestnuts decades ago. Way too much of a pain. The jarred ones are terrific. They don't have that same roasted flavor, but they are excellent nonetheless. They are, however, very, very expensive. And seem to get more so by the year.

        This year I bought chestnuts at Trader Joe's--two different kinds to see which I preferred. One is vacuum packed, the label says "Peeled and Cooked," and it needs to be refrigerated; that one was $3.99 for 6.5 ounces. The other is called "Steamed Chestnuts", also "Peeled and Fully Cooked." That one only needs to be refrigerated after opening. That one was $5.49 for 8 ounces. It's too soon to do a taste test since the first package says to use them within 3 days after opening, but both look very promising. Anyone have any experience with either of these?

        5 Replies
        1. re: JoanN

          Trader Joe has offered Frozen peeled chestnuts in the past - any current knowledge/experience with these?

          1. re: jen kalb

            I'm new to Trader Joe's since one just opened a few blocks from me. But when I asked for chestnuts, no one mentioned frozen, they just pointed me toward these two.

            1. re: JoanN

              Joan -- I will be very interested in your report.

              It sounds like the vacuum packed may be cheaper than the jarred? Or is my math wrong?

              My secret has been to wait until after the holidays and then snap up all the ones I can that go on sale at the local Williams Sonoma store.

            2. re: jen kalb

              I like the roasted frozen ones, but they didn't carry them last year (may be it's been longer).

              1. re: paulj

                Trader Joe's does not have the frozen ones this year,my local store says they lost their supplier. But I like the vacuum packed ones very much.

          2. I'm afraid this won't be of help to the OP, because (s)he's in the NYC area, but I use fresh in season without much trouble. Here in the KC area, I can find them locally grown, and they're moist enough that the peel and skin just come right off with a sharp paring knife and a little squeeze. I guess I'm lucky.

            2 Replies
            1. re: amyzan

              You are, although fresh chestnuts are available here in NYC, I saw bags in my local supermarket last week. I can't imagine that there fresh enough for your peeling method though; these probably require some more effort. I like to roast them first anyway, for that flavor.

              One of the really nice old fashioned street food vendors in NYC are the roasted chestnut carts in the late fall/early winter months. I don't know the exact history if this tradition, but I'm betting vendors have been roasting chestnuts street side in NYC for at least a few centuries.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                I once knew someone whose family owned many of the chestnut-roasting carts in NYC. Chestnuts in the winter, ice cream in the summer. Not an easy business. And very cutthroat--who got which corner was sometimes decided with a subpoena--or a gun. But a large, extended family lived very well off that business for a very long time.

            2. If you have the time and frame of mind to roast real chestnuts - fireplace, glass of wine, do it. Oven them if you must, with music. Mine are lying in wait, from Italy, $4/ lb.
              Chestnuts in a jar scares me as embalming scares me.