We recommend using fresh chestnuts when they are available in the fall or early winter. Here's our best method for shelling them.
Chestnuts are available jarred and canned, but we’ve found that processing causes them to lose their rich, nutty flavor and take on a molasses-y sweetness. For that reason, we recommend using fresh chestnuts when they are available in the fall or early winter. Look for nuts with glossy shells, a sign of freshness and proper storage. Also choose nuts that do not rattle when shaken, as this indicates that they have dried out.
To shell 1 pound of chestnuts: Cut whole nuts in half crosswise, then blanch for 8 minutes in 8 cups boiling water. Turn off heat; leave nuts in water. One at a time, hold nut with a folded towel and squeeze shell to extract nut. Using paring knife, trim any bits of husk. One pound of chestnuts will yield roughly 10 ounces of nutmeats.