Scientific name of chestnut is Castanea sativa. They belong to the beech or Fagaceae family, in the genus: Castanea. Castanea species are large deciduous trees. They are native to the mountainous area of china, japan, north america and europe. Castanea are monoecious; bearing both male and female flowers (“catkins”) on the same tree. Chestnuts are consumed around the world. They are considered both as a nut and fruit. Chestnuts have mild sweet taste. Chestnuts have several health benefits like to boost the immune system. Prevent chronic illness, diabetes, strengthen bones and digestive systems.
Chestnuts help in promoting better digestion. It also helps to maintain the bacteria found in the gut.
Chestnuts contains lot of antioxidants in it. Which helps to protect against skin cancer, free radicals, melanoma and heart disease.
Protects Your Heart
Chestnuts protects from heart disease and reduces the risk of heart disease as it contains potassium and antioxidants. It also protects from inflammation, lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
Chestnuts protects from constipation and helps in promoting digestion.
Boosts Bone Health
Chestnuts contain manganese which helps in strengthening bones and protects from various diseases.
Improves Brain Function
Chestnuts contains vitamin B, thiamine, vitamin B6, riboflavin and folate which helps to make the brain healthy and protects against various disease.
Boost Immune System
Chestnuts contain vitamin C and antioxidants which helps to boost the immune system of the body.
Prevent Chronic Illnesses
Chestnuts contains antioxidants which helps in reducing the oxidative stress. It also helps to prevent cancer especially skin cancer.
Control Blood Pressure
Potassium helps to lower the blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Chestnut can be eaten at any time of day. brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, celery root, fennel, ginger, mushroom (cépes/porcini), onions, shallots, sweet potatoes, apples, figs, lemon, orange, pears, plums/prunes goes well with chestnuts.
How to buy and store chestnuts
Always buy big sized chestnuts. Avoid those with greenish mold between the convoluted folds, on the kernel and its outer shell. Pack chestnuts in a perforated bag and place in the refrigerator set at high relative humidity where they remain fresh for few weeks.
Uses of chestnut
Here are some serving tips:
- Enjoy them raw, boiled or roasted. To roast, make few, small incisions over the dome-side to prevent them from bursting.
- In Japan, steamed chestnut rice (Kuri Gohan) is a popular autumn dish. In Korea, a kind of sweet dessert known as yaksik is prepared using chestnuts, jujube, and pine nuts mixed with glutinous rice for the New Year celebrations.
- The nuts are used as one of the main ingredients in poultry stuffing, especially in the Thanksgiving turkey.
- Chestnut flour is also sought after in many Tuscany recipes such as polenta, sweet bread, biscuits, cakes, soups, and ice-cream.
- Marron glacé is a highly popular confectionary in the Europe where large-sized, high-quality European chestnuts (Marrone di Lucerna ) are employed. To prepare marron glacé; the nuts soaked in water, then dipped and heated in a gradual concentration of sugar vanilla syrup for several days. These candied nuts are then subjected to dry under heat/sunlight before packing.
- They are also used to make the chestnut buttercream.
Season in which chestnut is available
Chestnut is available in the month of october till december.
How to make Vegetarian Lentil And Chestnut Meatballs With Tomato Sauce
- 200g pouch of Merchant Gourmet Chestnut Puree
- 1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes with their juice
- 100g breadcrumbs
- 250g Merchant Gourmet Simply Cooked Puy Lentils
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 tbsp sliced parsley, plus 2 tbsp to finish
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- A little flour for dusting your hands
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Prep ahead The balls and sauce can be made and completely cooked 2 days ahead.
1.Start with the tomato sauce. Get a large shallow pan. Add the onions and olive oil. Sweat for 6-7 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the tinned tomato and water. Simmer gently while you make the chestnut balls.
2.Get a large bowl. Add the chestnut puree, breadcrumbs, cooked lentils, chopped garlic, 4 tbsp sliced parsley and the egg yolk. Season to taste. Squeeze the mixture. Roll it into 28 balls.
3.Add the chestnut balls to the simmering sauce in a single layer. Brush the balls with the sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes, brushing the balls 3 times. Sprinkle the remaining parsley over the top.
4.Serve with pasta or bread.
Safety profile for using chestnut
Some people can have allergy to chestnuts. It symptoms can be itching, swelling, wheezing and redness. If you experience any of these symptoms after eating chestnuts, you should discontinue use and consult with your doctor immediately.
If excess of chestnuts have been eaten then it can cause increase in blood sugar.
Fun facts about chestnut
- Chestnuts have been cultivated for over 4000 years.
- To the early Christians, chestnuts symbolized chastity
- In Turkey and parts of Europe and Asia chestnuts replaced cereals as a source of carbohydrates.
- In Japan, Italy, and France, chestnuts have traditionally been the food of the poor.
- Chestnuts are the only nuts that contain vitamin C.
- In Japan, chestnuts represent mastery and strength and are traditionally served at New Years.
- Roasting chestnuts for eating is popular in northern China, Korea, Southeast Asia and Turkey as well as parts of Europe.
- China produces more than twice as many chestnuts as its closest competitor, Turkey.
- The United States produces only 1% of the world supply and must important chestnuts, mostly from southern Italy, to meet the demand. Sicilian chestnuts are most highly prized.
- The chestnut tree of One Hundred Horses growing on Mount Etna in Sicily is largest and oldest known chestnut tree in the world. It is between 2,000 and 4,000 years old and 190 feet in circumference.
- Chestnut is deciduous tree in the Fagaceae family; genus: Castanea.
- There are 9 different species of chestnut native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
- The four main species are commonly known as European, Chinese, Japanese, an American chestnuts, some species called chinkapin or chinquapin.
- It has a lifespan of 200 to 800 years, depending on the species.
- Their mature heights vary from the smallest species of chinkapins reaching from 2 to 8 meters (6.5-26 feet), to the giant of past American forests (Castanea dentata) reaching up to 60 meters (200 feet) in height, and 3.5 meters (12 feet) in diameter; Between these extremes are found the Japanese chestnut (C. crenata) at 10 m average; followed by the Chinese chestnut (C. mollissima) at about 15 m, then the European chestnut (C. sativa) 20–35 m (66–115 ft).
- Chestnut tree has reddish-brown or grey bark that is smooth in young trees but becomes rough and furrowed in old trees. The bark often has a net-shaped (retiform) pattern with deep furrows or fissures running spirally in both directions up the trunk.
- The leaves are simple, ovate or lanceolate, 10–30 cm (4-12 in) long and 4–10 cm (1.5-4 in) wide, with sharply pointed, widely spaced teeth, with shallow rounded sinuates between.
- The flowers follow the leaves, appearing in late spring or early summer or into July. They are arranged in long catkins of two kinds, with both kinds being borne on every tree. Some catkins are made of only male flowers, which mature first. Each flower has 8-12 stamens. Other catkins have these pollen-bearing flowers, but also carry near the twig from which these spring, small clusters of female or fruit-producing flowers.
- Chestnut flowers are not self-compatible, so two trees are required for pollination. Since they are fragrant, flowers easily attract insects which transfer pollen from one tree to another and perform pollination successfully.
- Two or three flowers together form a four-lobed prickly calybium, which ultimately grows completely together to make the hull, or husk, covering the fruits.
- The fruit is contained in a spiny (very sharp) cupule 5–11 cm (2-4.3 in) in diameter, also called “bur” or “burr“. The burrs are often paired or clustered on the branch and contain one to seven nuts according to the different species, varieties, and cultivars.
- The chestnut fruit has a pointed end with a small tuft at its tip , and at the other end, a hilum – a pale brown attachment scar. In many varieties, the fruit is flattened on one or two sides. It has two skins. The first one is a hard, shiny, brown outer hull or husk, called the pericarpus; the industry calls this the “peel”. Underneath the pericarp is another, thinner skin, called the pellicle or episperm. The pellicle closely adheres to the seed itself, following the grooves usually present at the surface of the fruit. These grooves are of variable sizes and depths according to the species and variety.
- The nuts are an important food for jays, pigeons, wild boar, deer, and squirrels.
- All species except American chestnut are numerous in the wild.
- It is estimated that between 3 and 4 billion American chestnut trees were destroyed in the first half of the 20th century by blight (fungal disease). Very few mature specimens of the tree exist within its historical range.
- The Japanese chestnut (kuri) was in cultivation before rice and the Chinese chestnut(C. mollissima) possibly for 2,000 to 6,000 years.
- The Hundred-Horse Chestnut is the largest and oldest known chestnut tree in the world. Located on Linguaglossa road in Sant’Alfio, on the eastern slope of Mount Etna in Sicily it is generally believed to be 2,000 to 4,000 years old. It is a Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa, family Fagaceae). Guinness World Records has listed it for the record of “Greatest Tree Girth Ever”, noting that it had a circumference of 57.9 m (190 ft) when it was measured in 1780. Above-ground the tree has since split into multiple large trunks, but below-ground these trunks still share the same roots.
- Chestnut is of the same family as oak, and likewise its wood contains many tannins. This renders the wood very durable, gives it excellent natural outdoor resistance, and saves the need for other protection treatment.
- Chestnuts depart from the norm for culinary nuts in that they have very little protein or fat, their calories coming chiefly from carbohydrates. They are the only “nuts” that contain vitamin C.
- In Hungarian cuisine, cooked chestnuts are puréed, mixed with sugar (and usually rum), forced through a ricer, and topped with whipped cream to make a dessert called gesztenyepüré – chestnut purée.
- Roman soldiers were given chestnut porridge before going into battle.
- The name “chestnut” is derived from an earlier English term “chesten nut”, which descends from the Old French word chastain (Modern French, châtaigne).
- Chestnuts should not be confused with: horse chestnuts (genus Aesculus), which are not related to Castanea and are named for producing nuts of similar appearance, but which are mildly poisonous to humans, nor should they be confused with water chestnut (family Cyperaceae), which are also unrelated to Castanea and are tubers of similar taste from an aquatic herbaceous plant. Other trees commonly mistaken for chestnut trees are the chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) and the American beech (Fagus grandifolia), both of which are also in Fagaceae.
- In George Orwell’s 1984 the chestnut tree is used in poems recited throughout, referring to nature, modern life, and lies as in the saying: ‘that old chestnut‘.