Gathering from the wild – why save Chestnuts for Christmas?

November 14th 2013
By: Melanie Hollidge
Gathering from the wild – why save Chestnuts for Christmas?

Chestnuts were introduced by the Romans and have since played an important role in our festive celebrations; roasting on an open fire, a key ingredient in Christmas stuffing and serving with vegetables, they are amazingly versatile, but why save them for Christmas?
Chestnuts are shiny brown nuts whose thick casing has long, sharp, needle-like spikes called burrs. There are usually four nuts per casing, and to remove them from the casing the best way is to roll them under your foot, applying some pressure until the nuts pop out.
In Surrey there is an abundance of Chestnut trees in our woodlands, so at this time year it’s a great way to spend a weekend afternoon with the family, hunting and gathering nuts for winter.
Once cooked Chestnuts can be used in the same way as other nuts, whizz them up in your blender and you can add them to cakes, tortes, nut loafs, ice creams, they can be used whole in winter stews, they are great accompaniment to brussels sprouts.  
Chestnuts must always be cooked before eating, as they have a high tannic acid content, you will need to remove them from their skins by either boiling or roasting them – but don’t forget to score them first as they can explode.
Chestnuts, much the same as other nuts, taste delicious with chocolate, so replace expensive walnuts and pine nuts and add them to your recipes.
If you prefer to keep it simple, roast them with butter on an open fire, (in either tin foil or a chestnut pan) or in your oven and enjoy!
If you have any Chestnut recipes of your own please share them with us on our Facebook page.