In season from October through late December, delicious chestnuts are a holiday classic, with songs written about them to boot. With more fiber than other nut varieties, chestnuts lend themselves to being a wonderful comfort food to eat right out of the oven, in soups, and in desserts too.
Chestnuts have other benefits besides their cheerful reputation. They are good sources of copper and magnesium, both of which are important for healthy tissue development and growth. Chestnuts are the only nut to provide vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that supports immune function, important for those in treatment trying to stay healthy through the winter.
If you’ve ever noticed that chestnuts can make your mouth feel dry, it’s likely due to the tannins, a phytonutrient with antioxidant properties. Chestnuts are very high in tannins and should never be eaten raw due to their bitter taste, digestive discomfort, and possible risk of toxicity. Cooking and peeling them solves this problem.
When buying whole chestnuts, make sure the nut has a glossy deep brown surface with no obvious wormholes or dents. They should be heavy for their size, very hard, and not rattle around in the shell.
Generally speaking, it’s more cost-effective to buy the whole nut to cook with, but there’s lengthy prep involved. However, all our recipes use prepped chestnuts that can be used as-is in a variety of recipes.
Roasting chestnuts in an oven or over an open fire is how we usually think of cooking and eating them, but chestnuts lend themselves to other cooking methods in delicious fall dishes across many cuisines, including those of France, Italy, Spain, and Japan.