Food & Drink Magazine

Love Our Food – Chestnut

By @mokapinkdotcom

Mokapink love our food chestnut

Probably one of the first foods eaten by man, the chestnut dates back to prehistoric times. The chestnut tree was first introduced to Europe via Greece. Alexander the Great and the Romans planted chestnut trees across Europe while on their various campaigns. The Greek army survived on their stores of chestnuts during their retreat from Asia Minor in 401-399 B.C. To the early Christians, chestnuts symbolized chastity. These starchy nuts are given to the poor as a symbol of sustenance on the Feast of Saint Martin. Chestnut timber resembles its cousin, the oak, in both colour and texture and is highly-valued. Also known for its tanning properties, the trees can live up to five hundred years and usually do not begin to produce fruit until they are forty years old.

• December is the prime month for fresh chestnuts.
• It is an important food crop in China, Japan, and southern Europe where they are often ground into a meal for bread making, thus giving rise to the nickname “bread tree”.
• Chestnuts are often used as a substitute for potatoes or pasta in Europe due to their high starch content.
• Chestnuts can be eaten candied, boiled, steamed, grilled or roasted in sweet or savoury recipes.
• Removing the skin in its raw state is virtually impossible. It is much easier and recommended to cook fresh chestnuts before removal of the shell and skin.
• When cooking chestnuts to facilitate removal of the shell, you’ll need to slice a large X along the flat side before roasting or boiling.
• Chestnuts can potentially explode during roasting from internal pressure if not pierced.
• Raw chestnuts must be boiled or roasted before eating due to the high levels of tannic acid in order to avoid digestive discomfort.
• Dried chestnuts are reconstituted by soaking in water before using.
• Chestnut flour is usually sold in fall and winter due to its short shelf life. It can then be used to prepare breads, cakes, pancakes and pastas or used as thickener for stews, soups, and sauces.
• Candied chestnuts are sold under the French name Marrons glacés.
• Marrons glacés
eaten during Christmas are those picked the year before.

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