Freshview’s guide to chestnuts
Chestnuts – A classic, often overlooked ingredient for autumn.
Fresh chestnuts are a spiky challenge in our grab-and-go society. We want instant gratification; they shame us into slowing down. In their natural state, the nuts prickly shells look dazzling but are tricky to handle. Chefs and front of house staff love them for decorating their restaurants.
Edible or ‘sweet’ chestnuts were first brought to Europe by The Ancient Greeks.
There are also ‘Japanese’, ‘Chinese’ and ‘American’ chestnut species.
Chestnut trees grow in temperate zones around the world and have been an important foodstuff for millennia.
According to The Oxford Companion to Food, the original polenta was made with chestnut flour.
Chestnuts are gluten-free and for this reason, you cannot bake risen breads exclusively with chestnut flour.
The nuts are also rich in fibre, potassium, vitamin C and folates.
Chestnuts contain less fat than most other nuts.
The season for chestnuts stretches from September to January.
Growing & Harvesting
Once the nuts fall from the tree, harvesting is sometimes done with nets and large vacuums however it’s still common to see them gathered by hand.
The nuts are often soaked in water in harvest as the ‘bad’ nuts float to the top.
Chestnuts can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes, here are some exciting seasonal menu ideas that will we are certain will go down a storm with your customers.
• Pork braised shoulder, rosemary and chestnut stuffing and hispi cabbage
• Celeriac and artichoke soup with roasted chestnuts and truffle cream
• Pumpkin soup with mascarpone, almonds and chestnuts
• Braised venison tortellini with chestnuts, sage and parmesan
• Autumn minestrone with cobnut pesto, chestnut and pear croustades
• Wild mushroom and chestnut wellington, hay baked parsnip, savoy cabbage and mushroom jus
In pasta dishes, chestnut puree is sometimes used to add richness to a dish and can be spread on the plate or bowl before adding the pasta.
In patisserie, a classic dish is the Mont Blanc, a pudding of puréed chestnuts that is sweetened then topped with whipped cream.
Chestnuts are available from Freshview vac packed, fresh and as a puree. Nothing shouts more SEASONAL at this time of year.
Cook well chefs!