crack or open a chestnut?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by redgiant, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong
  2. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    You don't eat chestnuts raw. To remove the outer casing of a chestnut you have a choice of methods:

    1. Boil them for 15 minutes or so.
    2. Put them in the oven, at about 175 degrees centigrade, for 15 minutes. (N.B. make a small incision in them first to avoid explosions - see post 7)

    Clearly if you use method 1. they are softer than if you use method 2, and you couldn't say 'crack open'; you'd say 'peel'. If you use method 2, you might say 'crack open'.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2008
  3. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thanks Thomas

    could I just use "crack" in mehod 2? Is "open" necessary?
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum Quondam Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I've only ever roasted chestnuts - and then I crack them open. I crack open a chestnut. Then I peel it :)
  5. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    I'd use crack open too, RG:)
  6. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Mmm .... Can a roast chestnut make a cracking sound? I haven't given the matter much attention, but I don't think it can. I think you just roast a chestnut and peel it. Walnuts are a different kettle of fish - they have a hard shell that when compressed splits and makes a cracking noise.
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum Quondam Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Speaking from very recent experience ...
    If you stick a chestnut in the oven without piercing the outer shell you risk a minor explosion as the steam pressure builds up inside. This is a little messy inside an enclosed oven. The effect if you have "chestnusts roasting by an open fire" is a lot more interesting.

    When they come out of the oven the outer shell is crisp and hard. It is extremely difficult to peel them unless you crack them open first. This is easily accomplished by placing the hot chestnut on a firm surface and giving it a good thump with your fist or a suitable heavy object - big books are good.

    A chestnut is certainly not as impenetrable as a walnut, or indeed a kettle of fish, but unless the shell has split enough in the roasting to allow you to peel it immediately some cracking open is required :)
  8. Lis48

    Lis48 Senior Member

    York, England
    English - British
    Looking at that website, I don´t think the person is referring to the use of "crack open" as being unsuitable, but to a comment about hitting them with a great big hammer, which I agree does not sound right for chestnuts!
  9. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Right, I stand corrected by your cracking explanation, panj. :thumbsup:
  10. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    I suppose it's more a case of making a crack in them than making them go «krak!»:)
  11. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I live in the part of France called the Chestnut Wood, because the trees are so common here. I know at least four villages called Castanet (the Spanish percussion instrument beloved of Andalusian gypsies means chestnuts, of course). Chestnuts is a common euphemism for bollocks in the anatomical sense in the local dialect. Until the twentieth century chestnut flour was standard in baking. I mention all this to show how deeply the chestnut has entered into the fabric of life here. I'll ask the locals about their preferred methods of opening them.
  12. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    In this isolated corner, we don't pound chestnuts with large, heavy tomes, such as the OED two volume edition, or the Congressional Record. That would be an insult to a good nut.

    Here's how my father taught me to deal with chestnuts.

    1. Drop them in boiling water for barely a minute. This soften this shell, and later spares the books.

    2. Use a paring knife to put a nick, perhaps a quarter or half an inch long, in the shell.

    3. Roast them in the fireplace or oven.

    4. When they are cool enough to touch, or sooner if one is a hungry boy who loves the flavor of roast chestnuts, easily peel them, starting with the aperture made with the knife. This can be done with fingers alone, but a blunt knife is helpful for those with small knicks.

    I've cracked coconuts (a very large ball peen hammer and a vise are helpful), but have never had the pleasure of cracking a chestnut.
  13. Mr_Antares Senior Member

    Boston, USA
    US English
    Of course, many people nowadays use a microwave oven. After you do this, there is no "cracking" only "peeling" required.
  14. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    I suspect a lot of dictionary- or peen hammer*-wielding folk might consider that cheating, Mr.A:)

    *Whatever that is.
  15. UUBiker Senior Member

    Arlington, Virignia
    United States, English
    to add to the list of what sounds normal, "crack open" chestnuts, or any nut.

Share This Page