Tuesday, 21 October 2014



October welcomes the season of all nuts. This sweet and nutty chestnut soft to the bite (which is really a fruit  technically) is no exception to this rule.  

Available pureed, canned, dried, powdered and vacum packed it is also on shelves as a spread and even chestnut butter!! It is perfect to use in soups, sauces, desserts, salads and bread.

The French are well known to produce a Marron Glace` from this special nut to create their sweet trolleys. It pairs beautifully with dry Sherry when preparing a soup or an ice cream and compliments game meats such as goose and rabbit rather perfectly. 

The chestnut is found in a casing; called the burr. Smooth from the outside, it has a fuzzy furriness from the inside. The chestnut sits in this comfortable cover. When fresh it fits in well. As it grows older it becomes drier and shrivels up leaving this snug fit and  can start rattling within. Check the chestnut by giving it a good shake to ensure its freshness. 

To prepare it at home always make an indentation on each piece by snipping it or it will burst open; splattering all over. It can be boiled for a couple of minutes or cooked on the stove top roasting it to perfection. It can be cooked in the oven too. Removing the nut from within its shell can be time consuming. New Year, Christmas and Thanksgiving  gatherings traditionally serve roasted chestnuts to enjoy together as an after dinner treat.

Freshly picked Chestnuts available at the Local St Lawrence Market Toronto.

Edible seeds of the Chestnut tree, this nut is one of the oldest at over 3000 years old. Legend has it that it was first cultivated in what is present day Turkey and its surrounding areas of Mesopotamia and the regions of Asia Minor. It was then taken further West to Mediterranean Europe where the Greeks and Italians in particular used it to their advantage through storing it well. Very high in carbohydrates and starch as well has having natural sugars it is a healthy nutritious food.  It especially helped their armies survive during long wars and also assisted their population during food shortages. 

It is now grown in a variety of countries and has a distinct number of species; Also referred to by other names. "Chestnut" emerges from the Chesten Nut which also leads back to the French word Chataigne. Europe and Korea currently lead in producing these age old morsels of delight.

For an e-cookbook containing my delicious chestnut soup click

Niloufer's Kitchen: Winter

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