Chestnuts are the perfect winter warmer. There is nothing more satisfying than waiting to get your hands upon a chestnut still warm from roasting and carefully peeling back the skin to reveal its creamy white flesh. There is a moment of pure ecstasy just before you devour the entire nut, and not long after, have devoured an entire tray of freshly roasted chestnuts.
The chestnut is a fairly rounded nut that, upon harvesting, is surrounded by a spiny case. The nut itself has a sweet, creamy white flesh and crisp texture. Australian Chestnuts are so versatile they can be used in both savory and sweet recipes or eaten on their own.
Buffalo Queen. This is an early season chestnut that is better suited to being boiled due to its harder skin.
Bouche de Betizac. Premium 'Bouche de Betizac' variety chestnut favoured in market due to their sweeter taste and easy peel skin.
Regal. An early variety sweet chestnut that is delicious whether they are roasted or boiled and pureed.
Sweet Harvest. As the name suggests a sweet and flavoursome chestnut available earlier in the chestnut season.
De Coppi Marone. The arrival of the De Coppi Marone heralds that the Australian chestnut season is well underway with the best variety chestnuts coming into season. The De Coppi Marone is a mid to late season nut and known to be one of the best roasting nuts to come into season. A personal favourite of ours, this variety is particularly easy to peel and possesses a rich, sweet flavour.
Purtons Pride. When you see this variety available in market make sure you get a hold of them quickly as they signal the end of the season. The Purtons Pride is a late season chestnut and behold a particularly sweet taste. The chestnut itself is easy to peel and incredibly versatile as they may be roasted, boiled or steamed.
Australian Chestnuts are particularly versatile and can be used in both savory and sweet recipes or eaten on their own. Chestnuts must be cooked before consuming and may be baked, boiled or (our favourite) roasted. When cooking chestnuts, firstly cut a shallow cross into the flat side of the shell, this prevents the nut from overheating and bursting whilst being cooked. If boiling chestnuts, look to cut the chestnut in half across the width of its body prior.
Selecting the best produce
Chestnuts have two skins. One is the hard outer shiny brown shell and the other is the inner thin skin, also known as the pellicle. Once cooked, a chestnuts creamy-white flesh will have a texture that is similar to a roast potato and a delicate, sweet, nutty flavour.
The freshest Chestnuts will have a glossy, brown, shell and will typically feel heavy for their size. As a guide the firmer a Chestnut feels, the fresher they will be. When selecting produce look for even-sized nuts that feel heavy for their size, with an undamaged shell.
0 degrees celsius at 90-100% relative humidity.
Harvesting & Packaging
Chestnuts are unusual in that the crop falls naturally to the ground once mature.
It is particularly important that growers harvest these fallen Chestnuts within two days. The prickly burrs are commonly vacuumed, swept or hand picked from the ground prior to the outside casing being removed. Once harvested Chestnuts are then graded by variety and into one of seven sizes including Small (20-25mm), Medium (25-29mm), Standard (29-32mm), Large L1 (32-35mm), Extra Large L2 (35-38mm) and Special L3 (38-41mm).
Chestnut are available around April through to July.
Nutritionally, Chestnuts are more akin to a wholegrain than a nut being high in dietary fibre yet low in sodium, fat and kilojoules with no cholesterol and gluten free. In addition chestnuts are rich in mineral magnesium and a good source of vitamin C and folate. All these nutritional attributes make chestnuts one of the healthiest nuts available with an average 30g serve – one handful – providing just 200 kilojoules! it’s no wonder they score a full 5 stars on the health star rating!
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps neutralise cancer causing free-radicals by working as a protective scavenger against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) which play a role in aging and disease. Antioxidants have also been found to boost the immune system and may protect against heart disease, infections, cataracts and degeneration of the eyes macular.
Folate is one of eight total B vitamins and is needed for the formation of red and white blood cells in the bone marrow, the conversion of carbohydrates into energy and the production of DNA and RNA. Adequate folate intake is extremely important during periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence.
Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system and aids in maintaining good bone strength. Magnesium also regulates blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure and is known to assist in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.
Fibre contains no calories, and is a necessary element of a healthy diet in sustaining normal blood sugar levels and in promoting a healthy digestive system. Dietary fibre reduces the transit time of food in your gut, improves gut microflora and assists in lowering blood fats.
Thiamin is a vitamin that is also called vitamin B1. Thiamin helps to produce energy for the heart, muscles and nervous system and helps with normal functioning of the nerves, skin and digestive system.