Fermented Black Chestnuts

Create new, unique flavors for black chestnuts by fermenting them in a fermentation chamber or a slow cooker.

| October 2018

  • peeling black chestnuts
    Fresh, sweet chestnuts are at their peak in the early fall.
    Photo by Evan Sung
  • black chestnut puree
    Black chestnuts can easily be turned into a delicious puree perfect for pasta filling.
    Photo by Evan Sung
  • black chestnuts
    To effectively ferment black chestnuts arrange them in a single layer in a vacuum bag.
    Photo by Evan Sung
  • author photo
    Rene Redzepi is a chef, co-owner of Noma, and co-author of "The Noma Guide to Fermentation."
    Photo by Evan Sung
  • author photo
    David Zilber is a co-author of "The Noma Guide to Fermentation" and the chef who runs the fermentation lab.
    Photo by Evan Sung
  • book cover
    “The Noma Guide to Fermentation” by Rene Redzepi and David Zilber shares for the first time the techniques used in Noma’s pantry of fermented items including black fruits, vegetables, and many more. Organized into levels of experience this book is perfect for beginners and experienced fermenters.
    Cover courtesy Artisan Books

  • peeling black chestnuts
  • black chestnut puree
  • black chestnuts
  • author photo
  • author photo
  • book cover

The Noma Guide to Fermentation (Artisan Books, 2018) by Rene Redzepi and David Zilber is perfect for every experience level of readers interested in fermentation and recipes that require fermented ingredients. With 500 step-by-step photographs that illuminate the process behind fermentation and more than 100 different recipes perfect for everyday practical application, ordered from simple to complicated, everyone is sure to find something they enjoy. The goal of this book was to document the hard work completed by every involved with Noma and to make the knowledge and recipes accessible to all people, especially those outside of the restaurant world.

Makes 1 kilogram

Materials:

  • 1 kilogram fresh chestnuts in the shell

Fresh, sweet chestnuts are at their peak in the early fall. They contain a fair amount of water, and although they have a shell to keep that moisture in, like garlic, they should be wrapped in foil or plastic for more moisture retention. At Noma, we've found that chestnuts taste far more interesting when they're not fully blackened. Held at 60 degrees Celsius/140 degrees Fahrenheit, the chestnuts take about 4 weeks to mature to the ideal point. The flavor is akin to grape must, with notes of plums and dried fruit. Any chalkiness you might associate with raw chestnuts gives way to a pleasantly meaty texture with a bit of snap. Past the fourth week, deep caramel tones set in but the flavor becomes a bit one-dimensional.

Arrange the chestnuts in a single layer in a vacuum bag. They'll need to sit flat in your fermentation chamber, so if it looks like your chamber might be too small, remove a few chestnuts. Seal the bag on maximum suction. You can also use a large zip-top bag and squeeze all the air out by placing the chestnuts in the bag, then slowly lowering it into a large tub of water, stopping a few centimeters from the top (you may need to pull from the bottom of the bag to counteract the chestnuts' buoyancy). The pressure of the water will force the air out. Seal it shut and you'll have an effective, albeit imperfect, vacuum.



Place the chestnuts in the fermentation chamber. If you're using an electric rice cooker or slow cooker, remember to raise the chestnuts off the bottom with a plate, wire rack, or bamboo mat. Close the chamber and set it to 60 degrees Celsius/140 degrees Fahrenheit, or seal the cooker and turn it to the "keep warm" setting.

Leave the chestnuts in the chamber or cooker for 4 weeks. Slit one open to taste and decide whether you want to go a little longer. Once they've blackened to your liking, keep them in the shell until you want to use them. Store in a sealed container in the fridge if you plan to use them within a week, or freeze for longer storage.






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