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Dang, I can't score these chestnuts!

  • e

I tried 3 different paring knives and I just can't score through the shell.

Does anyone have any tips?

(I did search but didn't find anything, except one thread that suggested a box cutter. I will try that too.)

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  1. Wash chestnuts in cool water.
    Then soak them in temperate water for about 20 minutes.
    The soaking helps to soften the shell and makes it easier to cut.

    1. I think it was on Chow that I read to use a nut cracker, but do so gently to only slightly crack the exterior while leaving the meat untouched.

      To avoid hand cuts, if you have a vice grip (would probably serve as a nut cracker), I'd secure the nut in it before scoring. A locking adjustable wrench would also work.

      1. If they are fresh and edible, the shells are supple enough to yield readily to a sharp tipped knife. Especially the inside, flatter surface. I think you need to smash one open to make sure you don't have the rude surprise of dried out, over the hill chestnuts when it is too late to find replacements if necessary. Don't do anything with a sharp tool and a lot of pressure where a slip could cause an injury.

        1. With a paring knife, chopping board:

          Press point of knife through centre of nut, turn nut 90 deg and press point through again , so as to make a rough x.

          job done,

          when cooked it will open like a flower.

          I am eating chestnuts from Italy, delicate and perfumed.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Naguere

            Thank you! ^ ^ These directions worked perfectly.

            1. re: Naguere

              It is usually easier to cut the skin on the flatter size of the nut.

            2. I actually own a gadget called a chesnut scorer. We use it once a year at most, but my husband treasures it, as he is fond of his thumbs. Here it is (you can probably get it cheaper on Amazon):


              1 Reply
              1. re: sciencediet

                Ditto, and ditto. This is one of a handful of devices we own that only do one thing, and it's even a bit of a pain to store because of its somewhat odd shape. I kept the original package, and outside of chestnut season, repack and put it away on a high shelf.

                It does exactly what it says, quickly and well. One caveat: The first one we bought broke in its second season. As in, the metal actually broke, not bent or came apart. But that was when the product was first introduced, and anyway, we liked it so much that I bought another one, which I've had for a few years, and which works fine. So either they improved the materials or the first one I got was just defective, but overall, I still recommend this.

                Nonetheless, because of that experience, I might suggest buying this at a kitchenware shop with good customer service, so if you run into problems, they'll stand behind it. I think I bought our second one at Bed Bath and Beyond (in the "Beyond" section, naturally ;)). (And, at B3, you can also use a coupon...).

                Another product that does the job correctly, stores very conveniently, but is more physically tiring to use if you're scoring a lotta chestnuts, is the "bird-beak" style chestnut knife. Williams Sonoma sells that for, maybe, $6-7.

              2. I find an exacto knife works wonders.

                1. My best knife for this job is a short drop point paring knife - that is one with a straight cutting edge, with a point. Basically something that is short and sturdy that gives good control of the point.

                  1. You really only need to make one cut in order to avoid them exploding in the oven. That is all I do, with a heavy knife -- and very carefully.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: RGC1982

                      An "X" cut works better in that the shell will fold back making peeling easier.

                    2. I am making chestnut stuffing for the first time as per my SO's request. I found this video http://www.badgersett.com/info/chestn... on an easy way to shell chestnuts -- Cut in half and boil -- but I am wondering if they will not have as good of a flavor because it doesn't seem to involve roasting. Could I boil and roast?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Zusie

                        After almost stabbing myself several times, I just went out and bought a chestnut cutter. It is the BEST! looks almost like a garlic press. It holds the nut, then cuts an x in it. If you are determined to roast your own, I would spend the $25.00 on one. I felt it was worth every cent to be safe. Much easier and safer. Just google chestnut cutter. I found it at bed bath and beyond, but I'm sure found other places. Not so sure my nuts were the freshest, though, but that is another thread. hope this hepled.

                      2. I have an inexpensive chef's knife that I don't mind doing bad things to. I use my wrist to swing the knife downward toward the shell and that worked everytime. But I get a feeling it may not be something others should try because it could be dangerous if you lose your grip while you swing the knife.

                        1. I have a glove that prevents me from being cut. I think it's essential -- it's hard to cut a rounded hard surface. Also, I found the box cutter much easier. Put just the tip of the blade into the chestnuts to get it started, then rock down.