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Chestnuts Simmered In Syrup

1 kg Chestnuts
1 tbsp x 2 Bicarbonate of soda
900 grams Castor sugar or superfine sugar (See steps 21, 22)


Soak the chestnuts overnight, or cover with boiling water and leave to cool, in order to make the outer shells easy to peel. Peel off the outer shells. Put the peeled chestnuts in a bowl of water so they don't dry out. Put the peeled chestnuts in a pot, add enough water to cover them completely plus 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat enough so that the chestnuts don't bounce around in the water, and simmer for 10 minutes. Take off any scum diligently. Take the pot off the heat and into the sink. Run cold water into the pot from the tap until the water in the pot has been changed. (If you try to drain the chestnuts into a colander they may fall apart.) When the water is clear, rub each chestnut in the water one by one. If there are any thick fibers, take them off carefully with a toothpick. Put the washed chestnuts in a bowl filled with water so they don't dry out. If they do dry out they may break apart. After the chestnuts are clean, repeat steps 4 through 8 once again. For the 3rd simmering, use water only and leave out the bicarbonate of soda. Put the clean chestnuts in clear water, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. If the chestnuts are still hard after simmering them with bicarbonate of soda twice, use the soda for the third simmering too (1 tablespoon). Change the water in the same way again, clean the chestnuts, soak them in water, and then clean the pot too. Put the chestnuts back in the pot. Don't add any water. Add sugar on top of the chestnuts to coat them. Heat over very low heat, and let the sugar melt slowly. When the sugar starts to melt, tilt and swirl the pan so as not to damage the chestnuts, to mix the melted and unmelted sugar and to help the unmelted sugar along. When the sugar has completely melted, take the pot off the heat (don't over-cook it). Leave at room temperature overnight to let the flavors penetrate. If you are adding brandy or rum, add it at the end, and bring briefly to a boil. The next day, some moisture will have come out of the chestnuts overnight, so re-heat the pot to even out the syrup. Transfer the chestnuts to another container. Put the pot with the syrup only back on low heat, and bring to a boil. (If there are any lumps of sugar on the bottom, melt them.) Take off the heat and leave to cool, and transfer to storage containers. Done. They taste best after being kept for 3 days at room temperature. (The day in step 16 is the first day.) For every 1 kg of chestnuts, about 10 to 15% is the outer shell, so they will be 850 to 900 g after peeling. If you use the same amount of sugar in weight as the chestnuts after peeling, it will just about cover the chestnuts when simmering. Chestnuts cooked in sugar syrup only, do last longer than ones cooked with added water, but try to eat them up as soon as you can. I divide the chestnuts into small portions that can be eaten in one sitting, put them in jars with the syrup and freeze them. By defrosting them naturally, you can enjoy them even after a year. The most important key is to use good chestnuts. Chestnuts that have been picked before they're ripe or old chestnuts will be tough no matter how long they are simmered.

Source: cookpad.com