At some point in our lives, we have sung songs about roasting chestnuts over an open fire but haven’t gotten around to doing it. Roasting chestnuts over an open fire and spending the night under the open sky in the woods is one of the finer points of life. Chestnuts are great, you don’t have to go camping before you can enjoy them.
Chestnut is a large nut encased in a mahogany-looking shell. These things look beautiful and have a minimalistic look to them. They are easy to prepare and can be enjoyed in a relaxed capacity. Chestnuts can be the perfect treat at family holiday dinners or gatherings. In some households, they are a tradition that has to be observed at Christmas carols.
What do chestnuts taste like? Chestnut can be quite bitter or sour when raw. But when you cook or roast it, the taste gets better. Roasted chestnuts are the most common culinary adaptation you would find out there. Roasted chestnut is sweet in the likeness of sweet potato. Unlike other nuts, it doesn’t exactly have a nutty flavor. Chestnut is not too sweet, and this makes it a perfect addition to dishes and recipes.
Roasted chestnuts have a great texture, they are much more spongy instead of being crunchy like other nuts. Chestnuts have a lot of nutritional value that we are going to get into, before looking at the various ways you can use them at your dining table.
Nutritional Benefits of Chestnuts
Chestnuts can be quite impressive when it comes to the nutritional value they have to offer. They are unique among other nuts because of their great stock of Vitamin C. Half a cup of chestnut can give you 35 to 40 percent of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of Vitamin C.
Although when you boil or roast chestnuts, you lose a little bit of those vitamins, there is about 20 percent of RDI for vitamin C present in them. Chestnuts are also a good source of antioxidants.
After you cook or roast your chestnuts, they remain a good source of antioxidants. They have abundant stores of ellagic and gallic acid, these two antioxidants increase in concentration when you cook them. These antioxidants have properties that can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues. They can help to boost heart health and keep chronic heart-related diseases away.
Chestnuts can improve the entire process of digestion from start to finish. They contain a good amount of fiber that promotes the growth of healthy bacteria that lives in our guts. They also add bulk to excrement and make bowel movement free and easy. Chestnuts are a great choice for people with celiac disease because it is gluten-free.
The regular consumption of higher foods would result in reducing the rate at which the body absorbs starches. This is great for keeping one’s blood sugar levels at normal levels. The fibers in chestnuts can help bring a balance to the blood sugar levels in the body.
For people with diabetes, it can prevent spikes in their blood sugar levels and help manage the disease. The glycemic index of chestnut is valued at 54, this is very normal and means that it won’t cause major changes to one’s blood sugar levels when you eat them.
Culinary Uses of Chestnuts
When you roast chestnuts, you can eat them plain or add them to dishes like stuffed turkey to add a contrast in texture. When cooking or roasting chestnuts you need to score them so they do not explode from the pressure inside as they cook.
Making an X on the body of the chestnut before cooking keeps the pressure from building and makes it easier to peel when it is done. Chestnuts can be roasted in the oven if you do not have the means to have an open fire pit.
Roasting chestnuts take away the bitter taste they have while they are still raw. Roasted chestnuts can be used in confectionery and chocolates. You can also make a soup out of chestnuts all you need to do is simmer peeled chestnuts with aromatic ingredients.
When it is cooked, puree the entire mix and add fresh herbs and cream. If you are not so adventurous, you can include pureed chestnuts in your soup recipes. They have creamy flavor and texture that would greatly add to the richness of soups.
Chestnut can be used as a replacement for chickpeas in hummus. You would not be able to tell the difference. If you like things in a much simpler state, you can add spices to your roasted chestnuts and enjoy them as a treat.
Where are Chestnuts Grown? How to Procure Them
Chestnuts generally grow in the northern hemisphere of the world. The name chestnut is derived from the English term “Chesten nut”. This English term was passed down from the French word “Chastain”, which is derived from the Latin word “Castanea”.
Castanea is the scientific name of the tree, and it is sourced from a Greek term in the ancient town of Kastanea, in Thessaly that translates into ‘sweet chestnut’. There are different variants of the chestnuts, we have the Chinese chestnut, Japanese chestnut, European chestnut, and American chestnut.
Chestnuts can be found at farmers’ markets or grocery stores when they are in season. When it is close to the Thanksgiving holiday period, chestnuts would be readily available for purchase.
Do Chestnuts Taste Like Hazelnuts?
Chestnut tastes different from every other nut out there. Unlike hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, and more, they have a spongy texture and are slightly soft. When you roast chestnuts, it is sweet with a slight nuttiness that can go unnoticed.
Facts You Don’t Know About Chestnuts
- Chestnuts are expensive because they suffer from blight. Some measures are being taken to create blight-resistant chestnuts, but until then chestnuts will remain expensive.
- Horse chestnuts are poisonous to humans and can kill if too much is ingested. Horse chestnuts are different from normal chestnuts and would probably make you ill instead of causing fatal harm. It only becomes dangerous when you consume a ridiculous amount.
- You can microwave chestnuts, just make you score them first, to keep them from exploding.