This section is from the book "Practical Cooking And Serving", by Janet McKenzie Hill. Also available from Amazon: Practical Cooking and Serving: A Complete Manual of How to Select, Prepare, and Serve Food .
With a sharp-pointed knife slit each chestnut shell across one side. Cook a minute in boiling water, drain well and let dry. Add a teaspoonful of butter for each pint of nuts and stir and shake over the fire three or four minutes. Then remove the shell and skin together. Keep the nuts covered with a thick cloth, as they shell better when hot. Soak the shelled nuts in cold water to cover, to which is added a little citric acid, or a larger quantity of lemon juice, seven or eight hours. This is to harden the nuts, that they may not break in pieces while cooking. A quantity of acid about equal to the size of a shelled nut may be used with each pint of shelled nuts. The acid is harmless; but if more is used the taste will be noticeable.
The nuts are in the best condition for preserving in syrup or as glacÚ nuts when they are first gathered in the fall. They soon dry and then are likely to fall in pieces while cooking. After soaking the chestnuts in the acid water, drain and cover with plenty of boiling water. Let boil, then cook about two hours with the water barely quivering at one side of the pan. When sufficiently tender, drain and cover with a syrup made of sugar and water, each equal in weight to the weight of the nuts, and a piece of a vanilla bean. Keep hot without boiling two hours. Drain off half the syrup, reduce about one half, pour over the nuts and keep hot one hour. Drain off all syrup, strain and reduce a little, and, when cold, pour over the nuts. If the syrup sugars when cold, add a little hot water, let boil and use. Store in tightly closed jars as in canning.