Chestnuts Recipe & Nutrition | Precision Nutrition's Encyclopedia of Food

Chestnuts

Chestnuts

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At a Glance

Chestnuts are an edible nut, which come into season during autumn, and are often associated with fall and winter holidays. Chestnuts are packed with potassium. They also offer folate and vitamin C. The whole nuts must be peeled and cooked before eating (or you can purchase pre-cooked chestnuts). Once cooked, chestnuts have a meaty, slightly starchy, almost creamy texture and a rich flavor that works in both sweet and savory dishes.

Overview

Chestnuts are the edible nuts of Chestnut trees (Castanea sativa). Chestnut trees can be found in the US, Europe, China, Japan, and Australia.

Chestnuts, which must be cooked before eating, come into season between October and December. They are often associated with fall and winter holidays: most famously, perhaps, roasted at Christmastime. In Japan, chestnuts are typically included as part of a New Year feast.

Once cooked, chestnuts have a meaty, slightly starchy, almost creamy texture and a rich flavor that works in both sweet and savory dishes.

Identification

The edible nuts have several layers covering them. The whole nut is protected by a spikey burr, which turns yellow-brown and splits open at the time of maturity.

Break away the burr and you’ll find the nut’s hard outer shell; this is the way you will commonly find chestnuts. Fresh chestnuts in the shell are plump and rounded with a flat bottom. They have a dark, deep brown color and a glossy sheen.

After removing the shell, there’s one final layer – a thin inner skin – that must be removed before eating. Once shelled, the raw nuts inside are a light, creamy brown color.

Note: You may also find pre-cooked, packaged chestnuts in grocery stores or specialty food shops.

Nutrition Info

Chestnuts are lower in calories than other nuts, but they are also less nutrient-dense.

Per ounce, roasted chestnuts have about 70 calories, 0.9g of protein, 15g of carbohydrates, 1.4g of fiber, 3g of sugar, and 0.6g of fat.

Chestnuts are packed with potassium (168 grams per ounce).  Folate and Vitamin C are also contained in chestnuts.

Selection

If choosing whole, raw chestnuts, look for firm, heavy nuts without any cracks, holes or appearance of mold.

To test for freshness, shake the chestnut – if you hear a rattling sound it may be an indication the nut inside is old and dry.

Pre-cooked chestnuts are another option; you may find them in a sealed package or a can. Ensure there are no added ingredients listed on the package.

Note: When looking for pre-cooked chestnuts in the grocery store you may come across chestnuts in syrup or canned chestnut puree; however, both these are sweetened items meant as treats or for use in baking. They are not the same as pure whole chestnuts. Also make sure you are purchasing chestnuts and not water chestnuts, which are a different food altogether.

Storage

Store whole, raw chestnuts in the fridge, in an unsealed container, to keep them fresh. This way, they should keep for up to two weeks or more.

Cooked and peeled chestnuts are best eaten within a day or two.

Canned or packaged chestnuts should be eaten before the expiry date listed on the packaging.

Preparation

Chestnuts must be cooked before eating; otherwise their shells are very difficult to remove and their taste and texture unpleasant.

Chestnuts can be boiled or roasted, then added to other dishes or eaten as a snack.

To prepare chestnuts, first score an X on the flat side of each nut using a sharp paring knife.

To roast the nuts, preheat the oven to 350F. Place the scored nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes.

Alternatively, to boil the chestnuts, plunge the scored nuts into a pot of boiling water. Boil until tender, about 15 minutes, then drain.

When the nuts are still hot but cool enough to touch, peel them. They should slip out of their shells with a gentle squeeze. Remove the papery inner skin before eating.

Note: If you’re using pre-packaged chestnuts, the process is much simpler: simply remove from package, drain if canned, and enjoy.

Once prepared, you can eat cooked chestnuts as a snack, or add them to other dishes such as salads, stuffing or dressing, or baked goods. They pair well with fall and winter flavors such as apples, cabbage, turkey, pork, and sage.

Recipe: Cinnamon Oat Cookies with Chocolate Maple Chestnut Cream

Chestnuts

These cookies are absolutely scrumptious. Enjoy them as a snack or serve as dessert.

Ingredients

 
COOKIE:
oat flour
3 cups
unsweetened applesauce
1 cup
maple syrup
1/2 cup
cinnamon
1 tbsp
 
 
 
CREAM:
chestnuts, roasted
40-45
maple syrup
1 cup
pecan pieces
1/2 cup
cocoa powder
1/4 cup
cinnamon
1/2 tbsp
nutmeg
1/2 tsp

Directions

Prep Time: 30 minutes   Cook Time: 45 minutes   Yield: 16-20

Note: For this recipe, we suggest you begin by roasting the chestnuts. While the chestnuts are roasting you can prepare the cookie dough. Once you pull the chestnuts out of the oven, pop the cookies in.

Cookies:

Put all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir until very well combined and a thick dough forms.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using your hands, roll the dough into 2-3 inch balls and then flatten out completely once placed onto the cookie sheet.

Bake in preheated 350F oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

 

Chocolate Maple Chestnut Cream:

Begin by roasting the chestnuts. To do so, preheat your oven to 350F. Using a sharp knife, cut a slit, lengthwise, from the top to the bottom of each chestnut.

Line the chestnuts on a cookie sheet and bake for 35 minutes.

Note: you will want to roast about 50 chestnuts as you are bound to come across some bad ones once you crack them open.

Once the chestnuts are roasted, remove them from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes.

Once cooled, use a sharp knife to cut them in half. As you are cutting them in half, scoop the fleshy inside into the bowl of your food processor or blender.

Make sure you are only scooping in the light beige flesh. If you crack open a chestnut with a flesh that is very dark in colour, discard of the chestnut.

Once you’ve scooped out the flesh from all chestnuts, add the remaining ingredients to your food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.

Using a spoon, scoop a generous amount of the chestnut cream onto your prepared cinnamon oat cookies.

Store in fridge.

Enjoy!

 

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At a Glance

Chestnuts are an edible nut, which come into season during autumn, and are often associated with fall and winter holidays. Chestnuts are packed with potassium. They also offer folate and vitamin C. The whole nuts must be peeled and cooked before eating (or you can purchase pre-cooked chestnuts). Once cooked, chestnuts have a meaty, slightly starchy, almost creamy texture and a rich flavor that works in both sweet and savory dishes.