Chestnut flour is a very versatile ingredient, it can be used in pancakes to polenta, and from pastry to pasta. I have yet to decide what to use mine for, so I have put in the freezer for safekeeping - if left in the fridge I've heard it only lasts a week or thereabouts.
How to peel Chestnuts:
A lot of guides on the internet tell you to score the outer shell and roast the Chestnuts first (see my Hogweed Tempura post) before peeling. This is very ill-advised, as trying the get the inner nut out of the shell after roasting is even harder than the method used here, and definitely would have increased the time it took to get the lot finished, which have I mentioned, by the way, took long enough!
A better method is to get a pan of water to a rolling boil, chuck your Chestnuts in, boil for 5 minutes, and drain. This way you don't pierce the skin, and so stand a better chance of getting your nut out whole. As I had never done this before I made the mistake of putting a whole carrier bag full of Chestnuts in to boil at once, and draining at once. I soon found out that peeling the Chestnuts when warm was far easier and that I'd shot myself in the foot by boiling the whole lot. So;
- Boil only a few large handfuls at once
- Drain and put the Chestnuts in to a bowl of cold water
- Once they are cool enough to touch, start peeling straight away
- If you have a knife with a curved end like my mushroom knife - see below - I would recommend using it, it makes it so much easier to peel the Chestnuts
|Chestnut production line|
So once you have all your Chestnuts peeled and have recovered from temporary tennis elbow, you need to dry them off. I have a dehydrator, so used that, alternatively you could use an oven on a very low heat - around 40/50ºC. Spread the nuts on greaseproof paper and leave dehydrate, this does take a while! (5 hours or more).
|Dehydrator in action|
Once the Chestnuts are dry or semi-dry, put them in a blender and blitz. I over-dehydrated my Chestnuts slightly so that they resembled rocks rather than nuts, so I had to leave them in the blender for five or ten minutes until they had a flour-like consistency. After this they got 'pestled' in the mortar to get the remaining large chunks out. As it would have been even more work to turn the coarse powder to a fine powder, I left it as it was...rustic I believe people call that?!
If I were to do this again I would not have dehydrated the Chestnuts quite as much - would have made the bllizting process easier.
P.S. Top tip - don't open the blender straight after you've turned it off, leave the flour to settle for a minute before lifting the lid, otherwise you'll get covered in a cloud of Chestnut flour, trust me.
Once I have made something with this flour, I'll be sure to post the recipe on here, so keep an eye out.
|Coarse Chestnut flour|