Chestnut Season

Just because we are blogging about chestnuts today, doesn’t mean you have to start singing The Christmas Song! It’s hard not to.  But did you know that chestnuts are coming into season now and can be stored in the refrigerator all the way until Christmas?

There are four main species of chestnuts  which are are native to temperate regions in the Northern Hemisphere-North America, Europe and Asia.  All chestnuts are related to oak and beech trees, and are also quite beautiful trees.  The actual nuts are born from a very spiky burr that resembles a spiny hedgehog.  The burr pops open in the fall and the shiny brown nuts, which resemble buckeyes, fall to the ground.  A mature tree will usually drop around 3-6 pounds of chestnuts a day for a few weeks in the fall.

What do chestnuts taste like?  They are usually pretty sweet and have the texture of a baked potato.  They look like little yellow brains when you remove the inside from the husk (outer shell).

How do you remove the husk? Chestnuts can be baked, roasted, or boiled. Regardless of the method, a hole should be poked in the brown outer husk before cooking.  If you don’t poke a hole, the chestnut will explode and scare the pants off you.  Take a sharp paring knife and make a slit near the bottom of the nut.  The air will be released, and you won’t give anyone a heart attack.

How long do you cook them? 15-20 minutes is a good amount of time usually.  Test one out before shelling them all, a thoroughly cooked chestnut should be soft, not crunchy.

Nutritional value? Chestnuts are an excellent source of protein and are lower in calories than almonds and walnuts.  They contain many vitamins and minerals and are the only “nut” to contain vitamin C.

What can you do with chestnuts besides just eat them plain?  The fun part! Dried chestnuts can be made into a flour, you can also use them in stuffing, as a substitute for any kind of nut, in desserts, candied, or even deep fried (better than deep fried twinkies!).

Where can I get chestnuts?  Well that’s a good question! Check out!

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