“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” conjures up iconic images of roasting beautiful, fresh chestnuts during the holiday season. “Roasting chestnuts brings their sugar content up,” explained Kim Bryant of Bryant Farm and Nursery in Nelson County. The most important step in roasting chestnuts happens before you even start to roast—they must be properly scored. “Scoring the chestnuts before you cook them makes sure they don’t explode in an oven or over the fire,” Bryant explained. “It also helps later, as scoring the nuts makes them easier to peel.” Scoring chestnuts: The traditional way is to place a chestnut on a cutting board with its flat side down. With a paring knife, cut an “x” into the round top of the nut. If the nuts have a harder shell and don’t score easily that way, soak them first, in lukewarm water for 20 minutes, before scoring. Try either the classic “x” or a straight-line score across the round top of the nut, and it should open beautifully once it has been boiled or roasted. Roasting chestnuts: After washing and properly scoring the chestnuts, place the nuts in a roasting pan in a single layer. Place the pan over hot coals, and turn the nuts frequently until the shells begin to split open and the insides feel soft. Chestnuts also can be baked. Preheat your oven to 400°, and roast nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan for about 10 minutes or until the slits in the skins curl. Additionally, chestnuts can be boiled in their shells. Just score them first. Chestnut puree Roast the chestnuts, and allow them to cool. Peel them, and place peeled nuts in a food processor with a little bit of water. Puree to the texture of peanut butter. Then it’s time to get creative! • Add chestnuts to your favorite holiday stuffing recipe for a delicious new twist on the side dish. • Use the puree for your favorite chestnut soup recipe—a delicious, fall treat! • Add a little honey to make a chestnut spread for crackers. • Substitute the puree for bananas in your favorite banana bread recipe.