Chestnuts

4201CS            Chestnuts (vacpack)       12x400g

ChestnutsEvidence suggests that humans have been cultivating chestnuts since at least 2000 BC, with the fruit native to temperate climates across China, Japan, Europe, and North America. Botanically, the chestnut belongs to the beech family, which also includes the oak. Sweet chestnuts should not be confused with the horse chestnut (also known as a conker) or water chestnut, both of which are unrelated.

Unlike some other varieties the European sweet chestnut has, as the name would suggest, a sweet taste range when mature, as well as removable inner skins. The brown or black outer shell of the chestnut is quite thin and easy to cut with a knife, whilst the nut inside is covered by a light papery skin called the pellicle. The pellicle may peel freely from the nut, or can sometimes become embedded in convolutions of the chestnut meat and be difficult to separate from the nut.

Chestnuts contain similar amounts of carbohydrates to wheat and have been a staple food in southern Europe, Turkey, and south western and eastern Asia for thousands of years. As they can be dried, ground and used as a flour substitute, historically chestnuts have often replaced cereals in areas where they would not grow well, such as in mountainous Mediterranean regions. Until the introduction of the potato, whole forest-dwelling communities relied on chestnuts as their main source of carbohydrates.

When chestnuts are just starting to ripen the fruit is mostly starch but, as they begin to ripen, the starch is slowly converted into sugars, which account for around 11%. Chestnuts are also the only “nuts” that contain vitamin C, with about 40 mg per 100 g of raw product, although the amount of vitamin C decreases by around 40 percent after heating. The fruit also contains very little protein or fat.

Chestnuts can be found in various formats as well as fresh, including dried, tinned, vac-packed and frozen. Our whole chestnuts are cooked, peeled, and packed in a convenient pouch to seal in all of their delicious, naturally sweet flavours. In addition, according to our allergen policy, Reynolds does not source any nuts which are not in a sealed pack. As a result there is no risk of any cross contamination from them to our other products during storage or transit.

As chestnuts are free from gluten, they are one of the more popular ingredients in the preparation of gluten-free foods. Chestnut flour can be used in the preparation of breads, cakes, crepes, pastas, polenta, or as a thickener for sauces, soups and stews.

In the UK, Chestnuts are probably most commonly used to stuff vegetables, poultry and meat, but are especially popular in French cuisine, where the chestnut is used in a variety of traditional sweet and savoury dishes. For example, the marron glacé, a candied chestnut involving 16 different cooking processes, is often served in France during Christmas and New Year celebrations. Chestnuts have also seen something of a revival in Italy over recent years, as the country revisits its culinary heritage.

Of course, chestnuts can be peeled and simply eaten raw, or roasted in their shells. However, similar to popcorn, a chestnut is a closed shell with moisture trapped inside. Therefore, the fruit needs scoring before cooking to prevent explosion of the fruit due to expansion.

When selecting fresh chestnuts, look for those with healthy and shiny skins to avoid any old, potentially mouldy fruit. Fruit should also be firm and feel solid to the touch, with no air between the skin and the underlying flesh. Small   pinholes in the casing would likely be worms, so avoid chestnuts showing signs of this at all costs. Ideally, chestnuts should be stored in a cool and moist environment to prevent dehydration, such as in the lower section of the refrigerator in a sealed food storage bag. One kilogram of raw unpeeled fresh chestnuts will yield about 700g of shelled fruit.

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