Selecting High-Quality Water Chestnuts:
To select good water chestnuts, look for firm, hard-shelled tubers that are free from insect damage and bruising. Chinese markets are a good place to locate them year round.
Preparing for Freezing:
Clean and wash water chestnuts thoroughly to remove dirt. Discard any that have soft spots or appear damaged. Water chestnuts can be peeled either before or after cooking. To peel, carefully cut an X in the flat part of the chestnut with a sharp knife and submerge them in boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove and peel, also removing their brown membrane. To prevent the flesh from discoloring, dip peeled chestnuts into lemon juice.
Best Freezing Method(s):
Cooked & Peeled
Chestnuts can be frozen peeled or unpeeled and either cooked or raw. For the longest freezing time, bring chestnuts to a boil. Drain and peel off shells. Puree in a food processor or leave them whole. Pack in freezer bags or suitable containers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.
Raw & Unpeeled
Place raw, unpeeled water chestnuts in suitable containers. Seal, label and freeze.
Freezer containers should be moisture and vapor resistant and should not be prone to cracking or breaking at low temperatures. Containers should provide protection against absorbing flavors or odors and should be easy to label. Suitable packaging for freezing water chestnuts includes freezer grade plastic bags, rigid plastic containers or glass containers and heavy duty aluminum foil.
Maximum Storage Time:
Raw and unpeeled chestnuts will last 6 months at 0ºF. Cooked, peeled chestnuts will last up to 1 year.
Add frozen cooked water chestnuts directly to dishes while cooking Thaw raw, unpeeled water chestnuts at room temperature before processing. Puree can be thawed in the refrigerator or defrosted in the microwave as needed.
Tips & Shortcuts:
Freezing may cause puree to separate. Mix thoroughly to regain former consistency.
Refrigerating Water Chestnuts:
Store them, unpeeled and covered in water, for up to 2 weeks in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Change the water daily to keep them fresh and crunchy. Peeled water chestnuts will keep for 2 to 3 days. After opening, canned water chestnuts should be covered with liquid and can be stored up to 1 week.