Information about Chestnuts plus Chestnut
European chestnut Castanea sativa belongs to the botanical family Fagaceae
(also the beech and oak tree family) and is native to northern hemisphere,
having long been cultivated and consumed throughout Asia, Europe and
and History of Chestnuts
have been cultivated for at least 3,000 years in the Mediterranean region,
and it's believed that the ancient Greeks introduced the European chestnut
from Asia minor. The Romans were responsible for extending the cultivation
of C. sativa into northwest and central Europe and it was the Romans named
chestnuts "Castanea" but the name 'chestnut' is thought to be an
English corruption of the original Latin.
Growing Chestnuts Cultivation
trees can grow very large (70 feet or more) and the chestnuts are produced
once a year. They are contained inside a prickly case called a burr. In
the autumn, once ripe, the burr splits open allowing the chestnuts to fall
to the ground. By the way, don't confuse edible chestnuts with the
semi-poisonous nuts of the common Horse-Chestnut tree (conkers) which
ripen at the same time and are of a similar size, shape and colour. You
can tell edible chestnuts from conkers by the fact that edible chestnuts
have a point at the top of the nut whereas conkers don't.
are a versatile ingredient which can be cooked in a variety of ways -
boiled, roasted, steamed, microwaved, pureed and are used in both savoury
and sweet dishes. Simple roasted chestnuts in their shell are absolutely
delicious and are a favourite in Britain, especially at Christmas.
However, before cooking in their shell they must be slit to avoid them
bursting (a very messy occurrence). Once cooked, they should be shelled and
the thin skin removed before eating or using in recipes. To peel chestnuts
prior to cooking, slit as above and place in a pan of boiling water and
boil for 10 minutes. Keep the chestnuts in the hot water until ready to
peel as it is easier to remove the shells and skins when they are warm.
can now buy chestnuts in a variety of ways: fresh, frozen, tinned, vacuum
packed, pureed, dried and even chestnut flour for baking. Keep fresh chestnuts
in the fridge in the vegetable drawer when they can be kept for up to six
months. They are free of gluten, oil and cholesterol, low in protein and very
low in fat but they have reasonable quantities of vitamin C and potassium and
are very low in sodium.
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OF SWEET AND SAVOURY RECIPES USING CHESTNUTS