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Recognizing and preparing sweet chestnuts

  1. Autumn is the season when you can enjoy chestnuts. From October, the spiky husks with hidden large nuts fall from the trees. Pick them up in the forest and use them in a delicious autumn recipe.

  1. Although wild and sweet chestnuts are often confused, they belong to different plant genera. The sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) belongs to the beech family. The wild variety (Aesculus hippocastanum), also called horse chestnut, is part of the Aesculus family. You can only eat sweet chestnuts.

Difference tame and wild

  1. Horse chestnuts can be recognized by the large leaves in the shape of a hand with five or seven 'fingers'. They have a husk with short spines that do not sting very much. There is only one chestnut in the bolster, which is completely round. Wild chestnuts are very bitter and inedible. The trees that bear edible chestnuts have elongated, serrated leaves. Sweet chestnuts have a shell with many, long, fine spines, like a hedgehog. The husk sometimes contains up to three nuts. These edible chestnuts are not completely round, but have a flat side and a tip with a white plume.

Healthy properties

  1. Chestnuts are a lot less fat than other nuts. It does contain the necessary carbohydrates, fiber and protein. They contain vitamins from the B group, vitamin E, potassium, folic acid and zinc. A portion of 100 grams of chestnuts provides about 185 kilocalories. All kinds of medicinal properties are also attributed to chestnuts, but this is the wild variety. For example, a horse chestnut tincture would keep the veins clean and supple. Carrying a chestnut in your pocket is an old folk custom to reduce rheumatic complaints. Plus, chestnut puree is a home remedy for dry skin.

Roast or roast

  1. You can remove the brown skin from sweet chestnuts and eat them raw immediately afterwards. They are then nutty. They taste even better if you roast, roast or cook them first. Cross the top of the chestnuts with a sharp knife. Then put them in an oven preheated to 200 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes, until the skin bursts. You can do the same in a pan with a knob of butter over medium heat or in the ashes of the fireplace. Or boil them in a pan of water for ten minutes. Peel the chestnuts while they are still warm to make it easier. Often a film remains behind which is difficult to remove. You can leave that fleece on, but it has a somewhat bitter taste. Chestnuts are delicious with winter vegetables such as red cabbage and Brussels sprouts. A puree of chestnuts goes well with game dishes. Thanks to their sweet taste you can also use them in desserts and cakes.

Buy and store

  1. If there is no sweet chestnut tree near you, you can go to well-stocked supermarkets and health food stores from October to December. You can also find them in markets, in tokoâ € ™ s and Turkish shops. Dried chestnuts and chestnut pasta and puree are available all year round. Keep fresh chestnuts at room temperature for no more than a week in a dry place. If you are unsure whether they are still good, put them in a container with water. Chestnuts that float on the surface are dried out or eaten inside by insects. The chestnuts that sink are still okay.

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