October: it's time to chestnuts (and castagnate!). Thanks to an unexpectedly sunny autumn and the desire to be outdoors, many have reached the woods armed with baskets, bags and bags, to conquer the most greedy spoils of the season. Protected by curly and hidden by a thick carpet of leaves, the chestnuts are divided into two groups: those of small size and color dark brown, crushed on one side, with very tasty pulp and i brown, larger and with a characteristic heart shape, with a light brown striped skin that encloses a sweet pulp.
Very appreciated in the kitchen for its versatility, which makes it perfect for sweet and savory preparations, the chestnut is a real concentrate of vitamins is minerals but the good reasons to choose this autumn fruit do not end here!
Energy and good mood
The chestnut has a high nutritive power and is an important one source of energy, so necessary in this season. The high caloric rate is due in part to the low amount of water – the chestnut is composed of 50% of water – and to the wealth of complex carbohydrates like starch. Furthermore, thanks to the magnesium which stimulates the nervous system, it also seems to favor good mood.
Toccasana for mind and body
Small fruit, but beneficial for the whole body! In fact, the chestnut is good for mind, muscles is bones thanks to the vitamins of the complex B and al phosphorus, of which it is particularly rich, which help to keep the concentration high. It also contains a large amount of potassium, Useful for strengthening muscles and reducing rheumatic pains, and of sulfur which strengthens the bones and at the same time purifies the body. It is recommended during pregnancy because it is rich in folic acid, vitamin B group important in the prevention of malformations of the fetus. Thanks to the content of ironIt also helps improve blood circulation.
Chestnut is a precious source of fibers, which is very rich, and thus helps fight constipation. Even if it is not a cereal it has a nutritional value similar to wholemeal bread and flour and being gluten-free, can also be consumed by those suffering from celiac disease. Has a low fat therefore it is also indicated for cardiac patients.
Chestnut cooking water has an effect lightening on the hair to which it gives shine, while the infusion with the leaves of the chestnut tree is a facial tonic, especially suitable for those with oily skin.
Versatile and delicious
Very famous the castagnaccio, dolce of Tuscan origin made with chestnut flour, and equally delicious tarts, cakes, rolls and in general sweets based on chestnuts and / or chestnut flour. More unusual, but not less good, the savory preparations that see among the main ingredients the chestnut: gnocchi, pizzoccheri and maltagliati for lovers of the first, but also meatballs, sautéed with vegetables and chestnuts, creamy velvety. And the chestnuts also end up in the sumptuous stuffing of the famous turkey Thanksgiving!
The only negative note: the high content of tannin and sugar, the consumption of chestnuts it is not indicated to those suffering from diabetes and who is a diet, also because the high sodium presence favors the assimilation of foods. Of course the energy content of chestnuts varies according to the type of cooking: if boiled, 100 grams provide 120 calories, which become 193 in the case of roasted chestnuts and rise up to 343 for flour.
How to use them in the kitchen
Chestnuts go always consumed after cooking and at the time of purchase it is good to check that the skin is whole, smooth and shiny. Before cooking, they must be left to soak in water for about two hours; spent this time those that they surface they are not healthy and therefore they must be eliminated. If instead chestnuts are harvested in the wood, it is better to wait 4-5 days before consuming them, so as to allow a part of the starches contained inside to turn into sugars, making them sweeter.
After the purchase they are kept up to 15 days in cold and dry placeIf you put them in the fridge, make sure you put them in a paper bag. You can also keep them longer, up to a few months, but first put them in a container covered with water at room temperature. This procedure is called "novena"Because it lasts 9 days: half of the storage water must be replaced every 24 hours, except in the fifth and eighth days, when the water has to be completely changed; the ninth day the chestnuts are removed from the water and left to dry.
In freezer at home, on the other hand, they are stored for 6-12 months, better if peeled.
The roasted chestnuts they go first engraved with a knife from the most pot-bellied part, then they are cooked in the appropriate area iron pan from the perforated bottom positioned above the embers – and not over a live flame – in the fireplace. It is necessary to shake them often, so that they are well roasted on all sides. They can also be cooked in the oven traditional or even in the microwave at maximum power for a few minutes, cooking that makes them very soft and tasty, even if you lose the characteristic burn of the peel, typical of roast chestnuts.
To prepare the boiled chestnuts they are engraved on the flat part and then cooked in boiling salted water, with bay leaves, for 40-45 minutes depending on the size. Finally, if you buy chestnuts dry, remember to rinse them and let them come out in warm water for 8-10 hours. Then you can cook them in milk with sugar and Cognac or use them for soups with fresh pasta, ideal for maltagliati.
The chestnut … good, healthy and for everyone!
October 13, 2015
updated in October 2018 by Claudia Minnella
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