The properties of chestnuts
Discover the properties and benefits of chestnuts. Find out about their nutritional value and enjoy this typical dried autumn nut.
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Chestnuts have a high carbohydrate value, of which the greatest part consists of starch. For this reason, chestnuts have a medium-low glycaemic index. This means that glucose levels increase slowly and sustainably, which is useful when you want to provide constant energy.
Chestnuts are also rich in fibre which helps intestinal transit and is a source of vitamin C, an antioxidant par excellence.
In relation to minerals, they provide noteworthy levels of potassium and zinc.
The benefits of chestnuts
They give a feeling of fullness that may help you to avoid picking between meals, as well as maintaining your energy levels.
Among other benefits, their mineral content contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system and muscles, as well as maintaining our bones, skin and nails in good condition.
Despite all these benefits, they are known for being somewhat indigestible for some people and are even known to cause wind. Although eating them cooked instead of raw significantly improves how they are digested. Below, we explain the best ways to cook chestnuts.
How to cook chestnuts
The most common way to eat them is roasted on a fire or in an oven. To do this, you need to make an incision in the lower part of the chestnut. Cooking time varies between 20 and 40 minutes at 180ºC, depending on their dryness and size.
If you want to cook them on a fire or a frying pan, shake them often so they don’t burn. To keep them moist, you can leave them to soak for a quarter of an hour before you cook them. You can add salt, a little liqueur, sweet wine, stock or any other liquid you like. They are cooked in a different way in each region: in some areas of Castile and Leon they are roasted with honey, and in Galicia they normally add a little rough salt.
Another way to eat them is to boil them. Using the same time and process as previously, but in water instead. In this way, they can be peeled more easily. Use as a garnish or as a puree, stir fry or sauté with vegetables, pasta… and, you can even fry them. If you just want to peel them, all you need to do is scald them for 2 or 3 minutes.
Chestnuts combine well with mushrooms, poached onions, leeks, garlic, courgettes…
There are also many examples of traditional stews containing chestnuts: Alpujarran stew with chestnuts, or the Mayucan or Pilongas chestnut pot, as well as the one from Berzas, and the chestnuts cooked in Asturias.
In our country, the most abundant recipes are those for desserts, such as chestnut flan, confit of chestnuts, Reineta apples from Bierzo stuffed with chestnuts, or the chestnut marzipan from Huelva. Flour made from chestnuts increases the range of desserts: doughnuts, fritters, pancakes, tarts, biscuits… It is a good substitute for conventional flour for coeliac sufferers, as it is not a cereal, therefore does not contain gluten.