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Mouldy Chestnuts

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How do I avoid them? What causes the mould?

I just wasted the better part of an afternoon, blanching and peeling 1 lb of chestnuts intending to make puré. Fully two thirds were mouldy or rotten. Thank God it's just the two of us tonight. I'm willing to accept minor waste in a purchase, but not to that extent. They were $3/lb but the biggest loss is the disappointment and wasted time and effort. I picked them out of a huge bin at a local chain whom I won't identify but will inform: I'm sure it's the same at all of our very few national chains.

Why can I get fish, fruit and other perishables at decent freshness, but not chestnuts?

This is a perennial problem here in Canada. Surely the nation's vendors are knowingly setting out mouldy product as an annual rite. Don't they test their product?

Is the situation the same elsewhere?

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  1. Was there any sign saying where these chestnuts came from?

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodyDudey

      I can't recall, Dudey, but I don't think that origin is an issue here. With the exception of a handful of groves we have no edible chestnuts here so everything is imported. Nonetheless I'll check the sign.

      Last year I bought a lot with very few discards from the same source. On the strength of that I bought again this year only to be disappointed once more. This is after many years of hit and miss, mostly miss.

      On inspection it seemed that the mould begins at the stem end and works its way down. I expect that I was dealing with less than fresh.

    2. An easy way to see if your chestnut is bad is to put it in water (like eggs!). If it floats, it has a lot of air in it, which indicates mold/rot. It would be great if you could do this *where* they're being sold.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pdxgastro

        If you give the shell a squeeze, you can tell -- if there's give, there's air. It's not foolproof, but it really reduces the number of duds you buy.

      2. I know exactly how you feel. At one store, I even wondered whether they kept the same chestnuts from year to year. Now, I pick each and every chestnut individually at the store. It takes time, but I rarely get bad ones now. I look for a shiny shell, heavy for its size, and most importantly, when I squeeze it, it stays hard. If the shell gives at all, I put it back. When I get home, I put them in the fridge until ready to use.

        2 Replies
        1. re: earthygoat

          "Now, I pick each and every chestnut individually at the store. It takes time, but I rarely get bad ones now. I look for a shiny shell, heavy for its size, and most importantly, when I squeeze it, it stays hard. If the shell gives at all, I put it back"

          Didn't work for me, Goat. Some of the heavy, shiny, fat ones were rotten and many were putrid with mould. I expect that you have a source that rotates its stock frequently.

          1. re: DockPotato

            Sorry to hear that. Imagine the horror of opening a fat, heavy chestnut only to find it filled with mould. I have been there, but do not recall having come across a batch with significant rot in recent years.

            I also do all that earthygoat does, and in addition, only buy those that come from France or Italy (after all, chestnuts are a luxury item, it is either all or nothing, at least to me).

        2. I've encountered this problem myself once too often. These days, I buy packages of pre-roasted and shelled chestnuts in the Asian grocery store. They're never mouldy, and always perfect and flavorful, not at all expensive at $1.29/pkg...and most important, every bit as good in any recipe.