Everything to Know About Cooking and Shopping for In Season Chestnuts

The best way to shop? With the seasons. So, every 2 weeks at Kitchen Stories, we’ll be highlighting a different in-season ingredient along with 3 new recipes. To market, we go!

Everyone knows and loves chestnuts as the classic snack at Christmas markets. But as popular as they are, they also have a bad reputation of being a fattening food—which isn’t entirely true since it does no harm to eat them in moderation. Plus, there are plenty of creative ways to eat them besides out of a bag!

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Chestnuts consist of more that 40% complex carbohydrates and contain approx. 200 calories per 100 g (3.5 oz). However, they hold under 2% fat and cover one third of our daily requirement of healthy fiber. In addition, they hold a lot of important nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, and plenty of folic acid.

What’s your favorite recipe with chestnuts? Tell us in the comments, then upload a picture of your creations for all to enjoy!

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1. Hello, My Name is Chestnut

If you’re craving chestnuts after reading this article, unfortunately you can’t just go gather the ones outside that have fallen from the trees. Only sweet chestnuts are edible—and what you commonly find on the streets, in backyards, and in forests are toxic horse chestnuts.

Sweet chestnuts are grown in areas with a mild climate—in fact, everywhere where you can also cultivate wine. We obtain most of them from Turkey, Spain, Italy, or southern France.

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You can differentiate between ‘ordinary’ sweet chestnuts and ‘fine’ sweet chestnuts. The latter is the more exquisite chestnut, and you can recognize it by its heart-like shape, a triangular bottom, and by its red-brown shell with dark stripes. Ordinary sweet chestnuts are slightly bigger and roundish, but flat on one side.

2. When and How to Find the Perfect Chestnut

Fresh chestnuts are available from October to December. When they are not in season, you still have the possibility to buy them canned or in a jar, as well as vacuum-sealed and precooked.

When buying them fresh, make sure to only buy smooth, shiny, plump, and firm chestnuts without any worms or holes visible.

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3. How to Store Chestnuts

Don’t be fooled by the chestnut’s solid shell. They look like they can be stored for a long time, but their inner parts actually lose flavor after only a few days and become chewy. Therefore, you should use up sweet chestnuts quickly after buying them, or store them in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator for a maximum of 1 – 2 weeks.

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If you’re unsure whether your chestnuts are still fresh, you can easily find out by filling a bowl with lukewarm water and adding the chestnuts to it. If they sink to the ground, they are fresh, but if they swim on the water’s surface, don’t eat them anymore.

If you want to stock up on sweet chestnuts, it’s possible to freeze them. Just slice a cross along the flat side before boiling them for 20 minutes. Let them cool down, remove their shell, and store them in a freezer bag for up to 6 months to enjoy later.

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4. How to Prepare Chestnuts

Chestnuts are best prepared by roasting them in the oven. First, you should cut an incision across the chestnut’s shell and transfer them onto a baking sheet. Then roast them in the oven for approx. 20 minutes and make sure to place an ovenproof dish filled with water in the oven as well. This will keep the chestnuts juicy.

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How to prepare chestnuts

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Roasted sweet chestnuts can be eaten as a snack with butter. You can also use them for soups, mash them as a side dish next to venison, or serve them together with other winter vegetables, like Brussels sprouts. Their flavor also goes well in sweet dishes with apples and oranges. Season them with strong spices, like cinnamon, vanilla, or cloves, and you can enjoy delicious desserts with sweet chestnuts.

5. What to Make Next

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All week long, we’ll be featuring new chestnut recipes on Kitchen Stories. Check back to see what’s new, then try one for yourself! Here’s where to start:

Earthy pasta with chestnuts and mushrooms

Earthy pasta with chestnuts and mushrooms

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