‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire’; we have all sung along to this well-known Christmas classic, but how many of us have actually eaten a chestnut?
If you’re one of the many people that have never tried a chestnut, you might be thinking about giving it a go. But what taste can you expect? Let’s find out?
The Taste Of Chestnuts
Chestnuts are, as the song might suggest, normally roasted prior to eating. This gives them a warm and distinct feel.
When you think of a nut, you typically think about something that is quite hard and nutty tasting. However, chestnuts are something of an anomaly and have a very unique flavour and texture that sets them apart from many other types of nut.
When you bite into a chestnut, you will notice that there is a much softer centre which has a slightly spongy texture. They are very sweet and can be eaten on their own os combined with other ingredients to make various other dishes, most commonly, stuffing.
Are Roasted Chestnuts Healthy?
We are always being told that including nuts and seeds in our diets will be beneficial for our health, so where do chestnuts fit into that?
Roasted chestnuts are, in short, very good for you. They have potent antioxidant properties owing to the gallic acid and egallic acid that is found in them. Furthermore, when you roast the chestnuts, these acids increase in intensity.
They can improve your heart health and help to support a healthy digestive system, so there is no doubt that these are a good food to include in your diet; even outside of the festive season.
Are chestnuts high in sugar?
One of the most common questions is about the sugar content of chestnuts. Plenty of foods have excellent health benefits but are full of natural sugars that, when eaten in excess, can do more harm than good. Chestnuts do not contain any gluten but they are full of starch so should be eaten in moderation.
That being said, owing to their high fibre content, they may help to balance blood sugar and therefore, could be beneficial for diabetics. However, there has been research to show that when taken with diabetes medication, chestnuts could lower blood sugar to dangerous levels, so it is important to consult your doctor.
Are Chestnuts Anti-Inflammatory?
With chestnuts having excellent antioxidant properties, this goes hand in hand with them being a wonderful anti-inflammatory.
Chestnuts contain compounds called selenium and manganese and these are known to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. This means that the food could be used alongside other things in the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and gout.
How Do You Roast Chestnuts Like A Street Vendor?
Imagine walking down a snow-covered Manhattan street in the early evening; the bright lights of the city surround you, a bag of warm, freshly roasted chestnuts in your hand and the smell of coffee fill the air. Yes, OK it might be something of a fairytale but this vision of Christmas in New York fills many of us with the desire to chow down on some toasted chestnuts. But how can you recreate that street vendor flavour at home?
It isn’t as difficult as you might think:
- Begin by scoring the chestnuts with a cross on the top of the chestnut. This serves two purposes; preventing the nut from exploding the heat of the oven and making it easier to peel.
- Preheat your oven to 350ºf/180ºc
- Place the chestnuts onto a baking sheet and pop into the oven for 30 minutes.
- You should remove them and give them a gentle shake once or twice during the cooking time.
- After cooking, place the chestnuts into a bowl and cover them allowing them to rest for 15 minutes.
If you are fortunate enough to have an open fire, you can roast your chestnuts over the fire using a pan over hot coals. For this method, the cooking time will be reduced to around 15 minutes but you will still need to let them rest for 15 minutes afterwards.
Do All Chestnuts Have Worms In Them?
Sometimes, you may notice that your chestnuts have been affected by weevils, and although the term worms is commonly used to describe this, they are actually beetles.
If you are growing your own chestnuts, the best method is prevention over cure.
It is entirely possible to use pesticides on the chestnuts, however, a lot of people do not want to use chemicals. In this case, picking the chestnuts before they naturally fall is the best way to avoid infestations.
Are wormy chestnuts safe to eat?
The good news is that eating wormy chestnuts won’t harm you in any way, it’s just that some people don’t like the idea. If that’s you, no problem, you can discard the chestnuts and get a fresh batch.
However, by soaking the chestnuts in water with a temperature of 120ºf/49ºc for 20 minutes. Once they have finished soaking, you should allow the chestnuts to air dry before storing them in a sealed container. They will then be safe to eat.
How Do You Eat Roasted Chestnuts?
When you have finished cooking your roasted chestnuts and it’s time to tuck in, you may find yourself thinking how on earth you will get inside to the chestnut meat.
Remember that score you made on the chestnut before cooking? This will help you to peel away the skin and access the tasty flesh inside. The skin should peel pretty easily using either a knife or just your fingers.
What do you eat with roasted chestnuts?
The great thing about roasted chestnuts is that you can eat them with a wide range of foods. Of course, you can enjoy them on their own but they also pair well with a variety of vegetables like mushrooms and carrots.
Chestnuts also go very well with roasted pork seasoned with sage.
What drinks pair well with roasted chestnuts?
So what beverages pair well with chestnuts? I would say coffee, hot chocolate, egg nog or peppermint tea. These foods are traditionally associated with the winter season and are also a good way to warm up as it can be cold outside. I enjoy all four of these drinks and hot chocolate just sounds like the best option. So, you may want to try hot chocolate if you are planning on roasting chestnuts this season.
Do chestnuts and hazelnuts taste the same?
Chestnuts and hazelnuts are two different nuts. Hazelnuts are more like pecans with a smooth, thin shell and nuts that are encased in an edible, light brown-purple husk. Chestnuts have a sweet, earthy flavor, whereas hazelnuts have a richer, more nutty flavor. Hazelnuts have more protein than chestnuts while chestnuts have more fiber and are full of magnesium.
With excellent versatility and many health benefits, chestnuts are an exciting nut to add into your diet. They might traditionally be eaten around Christmas, but there is no reason you can’t include them in your year-round meals. They are easy to roast and have a sweet, spongy interior that is incredibly moreish.