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Castagne - Sweet Chestnuts

 

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Recipes on this page:

Roasted Chestnuts

Boiled Chestnuts

Microwaving Chestnuts

Chestnut Cream

Baked Chestnut Pudding

Chestnut Mount Blanc

Candied Chestnuts (marrons glaces)

Chestnuts under Rum (preserved)

Chestnut Marmalade

Castagnaccio (Cake)

Chestnut Flour Fritters

Sections:

Roasted Chestnuts

Health Properties

Chestnut Recipes

Chestnut Flour

Ancient Chestnut Recipes

Chestnut Goodies from Amazon.com

 

 

Sweet Chestnut Tree
Sweet Chestnut Tree Giclee Print
AllPosters.com

 

 


Sweet Chestnut
Sweet Chestnut Giclee Print
AllPosters.com

 

 


Chestnut, from "Dizionario Di Botanica"
Chestnut, from "Dizionario Di Botanica" Giclee Print
AllPosters.com

 

Forgive me is a few of these are of Horse Chestnut trees (no relation to Sweet Chestnuts), but they are so beautiful I couldn't resist...


Chestnut Tree in Bloom
Chestnut Tree in Bloom Art Print
Renoir,...
AllPosters.com

 


Chestnut Trees & Farm-Jas de Bouffan
Chestnut Trees & Farm-Jas de Bouffan Art Print
Cezanne, Paul
AllPosters.com

 

 

Chestnut Lane
Chestnut Lane Art Print
Wilhelmi, Gregory
AllPosters.com

 

 


Cheryl Lane
Cheryl Lane Art Print
Wilhelmi, Gregory
AllPosters.com

 

 


Chestnut Melody
Chestnut Melody Art Print
G.P., Mepas
AllPosters.com

 

 


Chestnut Lane
Chestnut Lane Limited Edition
Wilhelmi, Gregory
AllPosters.com

 

 

 
Blossoming Chestnut Branches, 1890
Blossoming Chestnut Branches, 1890 Giclee Print
van Gogh, Vincent
AllPosters.com

 

 


Chestnut Trees at Louveciennes, circa 1871-2
Chestnut Trees at Louveciennes, circa 1871-2 Giclee Print
Pissarro, Camille
AllPosters.com

 

 


A Basket of Pears with Chestnuts, 1894
A Basket of Pears with Chestnuts, 1894 Giclee Print
Joors, Eugeen
AllPosters.com

 

 


Under the Chestnut Tree, 1912
Under the Chestnut Tree, 1912 Giclee Print
Larsson, Carl
AllPosters.com

 

 


Chestnut Trees in Blossom
Chestnut Trees in Blossom Giclee Print
van Gogh, Vincent
AllPosters.com

 

Mont Blanc, Chamonix
Mont Blanc, Chamonix Giclee Print
AllPosters.com

 

 

Here are some fun and pretty Home Cooking prints from AllPosters.com for you to enjoy.

 

Home Cooking
Home Cooking Art Print
AllPosters.com

 


Home Style Cooking
Home Style Cooking Art Print
AllPosters.com

 


Home Cooking Cat
Home Cooking Cat Matted Print
AllPosters.com

 


Home Cooking
Home Cooking Pre-Matted Print
AllPosters.com

 

 


Cook Wanted
Cook Wanted Art Print
AllPosters.com

 

 


Autumn Jellies and Preserves
Autumn Jellies and Preserves Art Print
AllPosters.com

 

 


Winter Jellies and Preserves
Winter Jellies and Preserves Art Print
AllPosters.com

 

 


Preserves
Preserves Art Print
AllPosters.com

 

 


Summer Preserves
Summer Preserves Art Print
AllPosters.com

 

 


Summer Preserves A
Summer Preserves A Art Print
AllPosters.com

 

 


Summer Preserves B
Summer Preserves B Art Print
AllPosters.com

 

 


Bread Is Baked
Bread Is Baked Art Print
AllPosters.com

 

 

Food Prep
Food Prep Art Print
AllPosters.com

 

 


Chef's Helper
Chef's Helper Art Print
AllPosters.com

 

Sweet Chestnuts - Castagne

Sweet Chestnuts are castagne in Italian, from the Latin castanae, which comes from the Greek town of Castanis where there were groves upon groves of sweet Chestnut trees in ancient times.

There is marked distinction between the variety of chestnut that produces one nut per spiky pod, and the ones that produces several nuts per spiky pod

The one large nut is called a marrone, and is considered superior for roasting, boiling, stuffing fowl, and for making candied chestnuts, castagne carmellate, a specialty during holidays (often called the French marrons glaces outside of Italy).  Marroni have a high sugar content, making it a good source for chestnut sugar and syrup.

The smaller multiple nuts are sold at markets to the price-conscious, but they are generally used for the chestnut flour that is still used throughout Italy, especially in sweets recipes.  The flour is also used for making special breads and pastas.

 

Roasted Chestnuts

If you've ever been to Italy in December or January, you remember the lovely scent of chestnuts roasting over fires in steel drums on street corners.  For almost nothing, you can get a handful of hot-roasted chestnuts, wrapped in paper to warm your hands and your stomach.

 Chestnut Seller
 

Roasted Chestnuts

  • Make a cut the side of each chestnut's skin.  Make sure to cut through the shell.  This is to release the hot air that builds up during roasting.  If you don't do this, they will explode in your oven, or worse, over the open fire!
  • Put them in a pan in a hot oven, or over an open fire, and stir them around a bit to make sure they roast evenly.
  • Roast them until the nut meat is tender which usually takes about 15 minutes. 
  • If you want, you can test if they are done by inserting a sharp knife into the cut in the nut's skin.  If it enters easily, the chestnuts are done.
  • Remove them from the heat and peel them.  They are best eaten warm

 

Health Properties

The health properties of 2 1/2 chestnuts:

  • 60 calories (a slice of bread is over 100, to put it in perspective)
  • 1 gram protein
  • 13 grams carbohydrates
  • 1 gram fat
  • 1 milligram sodium
  • 20 % vitamin C

Chestnuts are a rich source of carbohydrates, which means it provides a quickly digestible source of energy, giving it a reputation for making men lusty.  It actually stabilizes the body's blood-sugar levels, allowing for sustained energy and strength.

Women are said to whiten  their complexions by eating chestnuts (but not the men?), and the nuts are indeed used to make a bleaching products, as well as a stiffening agent. 

Who knows, they may even make women lusty, too, but that was not something domineering Greek and Roman men considered important, desirable--or perhaps even possible!

 

Chestnut Recipes

All these recipes are originally with metric measurements.  I've given in parentheses a conversion to the Imperial system of measurements.

The most basic way to prepare chestnuts is to boil them.  You can eat them as a healthy, energy filled snack.  And boiled chestnuts, pureed in a food processor, blender or hand-press, are used in recipes both savory and sweet.

Castagne Lesse - Boiled Chestnuts

  • Make a cut in the side of each chestnut through the shell (I've a recipe that omits this when boiling the chestnuts, but I've been afraid to test it and get explosions in the boiling water!)
  • Put the chestnuts in a pot of cold water.
  • Boil for 40 minutes.
  • Drain and cool the chestnuts.
  • Then peel them carefully with a sharp knife, removing the thin inside skin as well.

I found these instructions for microwaving chestnuts

  • "After scoring, place around the outer edge of a paper plate and cook on high. Since oven wattage differ, start at 15 seconds, check and adjust the time for your microwave." (Delmarvelous Farms)

Many recipes call for the use of a chestnut cream.  Both chestnut cream and chestnut puree can be purchased canned and in jars for easy use in recipes.  For the purists, here's how you make chestnut cream.

Crema di castagne - Chestnut Cream (Pudding)

  • Boil a big pot of water.
  • Add 500 grams (just over 1 lb) of chestnuts and let them boil for at least 2 minutes.  This loosens their tough skin.  (This comes to about 350 grams (12 ounces) of chestnuts if you're using precooked/shelled chestnuts.)
  • Remove them from the water and use a small knife to scrape off the skins, including the internal fine skin.
  • Put the peeled chestnuts in a pot.
  • Add 1/2 liter (just over 1 pint) of milk, 50 grams (4 tablespoons) of sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla extract or to taste (you can also use a vanilla bean).
  • Cook over a low heat until the milk is completely absorbed into the chestnuts, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick.
  • Smooth out the mixture in a blender or food processor or hand grinder (I mean hand-powered, not something to grind you hand, although if you're not careful...)
  • Then let the chestnut mixture cool.  You can add salt to taste if you like.

Budino di castagna(e) - Baked Chestnut Pudding

  • Boil a big pot of water.
  • Add 500 grams of chestnuts (just over 1 lb) and let them boil for at least 2 minutes.  This loosens their tough skin.  (This comes to about 350 grams (12 ounces) of chestnuts if you're using precooked/shelled chestnuts.)
  • Remove them from the water and use a small knife to scrape off the skins, including the internal fine skin.
  • Put the peeled chestnuts in a pot.
  • Add 1/2 liter of milk (just over 1 pint), 50 grams of sugar (4 teaspoons), a teaspoon of vanilla extract or to taste (or a vanilla bean).
  • Cook over a low heat until the milk is completely absorbed into the chestnuts, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick.
  • Smooth out the mixture in a blender or food processor or hand grinder.
  • Then let the chestnut mixture cool.
  • Beat 2 egg yolks with 50 grams of sugar (4 teaspoons) until smooth and frothy.
  • Beat 2 egg whites with 50 grams of powdered sugar (6 tablespoons) and 4 tablespoons of a sweet liquor until the whites are stiff.
  • Mix together 50 grams of cocoa powder (7 tablespoons) with the nut mixture and the egg yolk and sugar mixture.
  • Fold in the whipped egg white mixture.
  • Put in a lined or greased pie or tart dish.
  • Cook in a moderate oven for 15 minutes.
  • Serve it cool or at room temperature decorated with whipped cream and sprinkled with cocoa powder, and/or chocolate shavings.

Dolce
Dolce
Art Print at AllPosters.com

Montebianco di castagne - Chestnut Mount Blanc or Montebianco

  • Boil a big pot of water.
  • Add 700 grams of chestnuts (1 1/2 lbs) and let them boil for at least 2 minutes.  This loosens their tough skin.  (This comes to about 450 grams (just under a lb) of chestnuts if you're using precooked/shelled chestnuts.)
  • Remove them from the water and use a small knife to scrape off the skins, including the internal fine skin.
  • Mix together in a pot 1 liter of milk (just over 2 pints), 200 grams of sugar (1 cup), a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract (or a vanilla bean), and bring it to a boil.
  • Add the chestnuts and lower the heat.  Let it cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking.
  • Let the mixture cool, then smooth it out in a blender or food processor or hand grinder.
  • Then in a bowl, mix together the chestnut mixture, 100 grams of cocoa powder (just under 1 cup), 50 grams of powdered sugar (6 tablespoons), and 4 tablespoons of a sweet liquor.
  • Form the dough into a mountain (Mont Blanc) on a large serving dish.
  • Chill it until you are ready to serve it.
  • Just before serving, top the mountain with whipped cream, to simulate Mont Blanc's snow cap.
  • Serve it and accept the raves with humility.  It's a show-stopping kind of dessert.

 Mont Blanc, Italy
Mont Blanc, Italy Photographic Print
AllPosters.com

Castagne caramellate or Candied Chestnuts or marrons glaces

This is a recipe for patient people only!  It takes several days to complete the whole process.  But once done, the candied chestnuts remain good indefinitely.

  • Score (cut slits through the shell) 800 grams of chestnuts (1 2/3 lbs).  (This comes to about 500 grams (1 lb) of chestnuts, if you're using precooked/shelled chestnuts.)
  • Put them in a pot and cover with cold water.
  • Bring it to a boil and cook for 40 minutes.
  • Peel off the outer and inner shells being very careful to keep the chestnuts whole.  It doesn't change the flavor, just the pretty appearance.
  • Arrange them in a baking dish so that they are not piled on top of each other.
  • Make the syrup by boiling together 1 kilo of sugar (just over 5 cups), 1/2 liter of water (just over 2 cups), and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (or a vanilla bean).  When it first reaches a boil, add 10 dl (just under 7 tablespoons) of vinegar, then let it boil for 5 minutes when it should become completely clear.
  • Pour the syrup over the chestnuts.
  • Leave it overnight covered with a clean kitchen towel.
  • Then put the pan in a hot oven to bring the syrup to a boil for just 3 minutes.
  • Leave it to cool and absorb more of the syrup for 6 hours.
  • Repeat these last two steps until all the syrup is absorbed into the chestnuts (about 3 more times, remember, I said you needed to be patient!).
  • You can store them layered in glass containers that seals hermetically (with the rubber ring), or you can wrap them individually in candy papers like the fancy-schmancy commercial candy makers do.
  • If you have extras or pieces, you can store them under Rum as described below.

Castagne al rhum or Chestnuts Under Rum

If you have candied chestnuts, you can:

  • Put the candied chestnuts in a glass container that you can seal hermetically.
  • Pour Rum over the chestnuts until they are covered and then add more Rum until you have a finger's width of Rum above the chestnuts.
  • Seal and leave for 1 month.

If you are not using candied chestnuts:

  • Roast the chestnuts as described above.
  • Peel them.
  • Put one layer of the peeled chestnuts in a glass container that you can seal hermetically.
  • Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of sugar over the chestnuts.
  • Build up the layers of chestnuts sprinkled with sugar until the jar is nearly full.
  • Pour Rum over the chestnuts until they are covered and then add more Rum until you have a finger's width of Rum above the chestnuts.
  • Seal and leave for 3 months.

Marmellata di castagne or Chestnut Marmalade

This is a delicious, nutty, energy-full spread that you can use on pastries, between cake layers, on cookies, ice cream, or eat by the spoonfuls for quick pick-me-up.

  • Boil a big pot of water.
  • Add 1 kilo of chestnuts (2.2 lbs)and let them boil for at least 2 minutes.  This loosens their tough skin.  (This comes to about 650 grams (just under 1 1/2 lbs) of chestnuts if you're using precooked/shelled chestnuts.)
  • Remove them from the water and use a small knife to scrape off the skins, including the internal fine skin.
  • Put the chestnuts in a pot with 1 liter of milk (just over 2 pints) a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract (or a vanilla bean), and bring it to a boil.
  • Cook at a low boil for 35 minutes, or until the milk is completely absorbed by the chestnuts.
  • Let the mixture cool, then smooth it out in a blender or food processor or hand grinder.
  • Put the puree into a pot with 300 grams (1 1/2 cups) of sugar and cook, stirring, for 20 minutes.
  • Put the marmalade in sterilized jam jars with a thin layer of Rum on the top of the marmalade to keep it clean of germs.
  • Store the jars in a cool, dark place (like that wonderful place that was once called a root-cellar).

 

 

Chestnut Flour

The Romans roasted chestnuts to grind into flour, the main flour used during Roman times for most sweets and many breads.  If you're lucky, you can see the Roman method still used today in Italy.

Roman Chestnut Drying

  • A special smokehouse barn sits above a furnace room. 
  • The barn is filled to the rafters with Sweet Chestnuts.
  • A fire is started in the furnace room below, and tended for several weeks.
  • The chestnuts dry out above the tended furnace fires.
  • Then the nuts meats are ground into flour.

Chestnut flour is used today for sweets, breads and pastas.

 

Chestnut Flour Recipes

Il castagnaccio - The Bad Chestnut

  • Soak 100 grams of raisons (just over 1/2 cup) in warm water to plump them up, then drain, dry, and dust them in flour.  (If you don't soak raison before cooking, they draw out moisture as they cook, making whatever you're cooking very dry.  If you don't flour them, they sink to the bottom of a cake batter as it cooks.)
  • Mix in a bowl 400 grams (2 1/3 cups) of chestnut flour with 1/2 liter of milk (just over 2 cups), adding the milk slowly as you mix it into a dough.
  • Then mix in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, the prepared raisons, and 50 grams (6 1/2 tablespoons) of pine nuts.
  • Put the mixture in a greased pan large enough for the batter to no deeper than your thumb.
  • Cook in a hot oven for 30 minutes.
  • Serve at room temperature.

Fritelle di farina di castagne - Chestnut Flour Fritters

  • Prepare the dough for Il castagnaccio.
  • Boil abundant vegetable oil, or preferably peanut oil, in a deep pot.  (Peanut oil heats to a higher temperature, letting less oil enter the fritter, and lessening the risk of an oil fire.)
  • Drop the dough by spoonfuls into the boiling oil and let it cook until golden.  (Be patient and don't overload the pot with dough balls, or you risk lowering the oil temperature, which allows more oil to enter the dough, making the fritter soggy.)
  • Drain the cooked fritter on absorbent paper.
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

 

Ancient Italian Chestnut Recipes

Recipes from the late middle ages and the early Renaissance used chestnuts (see my Ancient Cookbook section on the Food page).

I decided not to report the recipes here because they no longer appeal to modern tastes, and the measurements are huge.  Cooks back then, the ones who had access to cookbooks, cooked for very large manor estate households.

But to give you an idea...

  • Cooked or roasted chestnuts were added to mushroom, bean and vegetable dishes to add substance and starch.

  • A chestnut tart was made with ginger, pepper, cinnamon, sugar, fresh and dried chesses, ground pork or veal and saffron to make it yellow.

  • The tart was cooked in a crust made of soft cheese, egg whites, sugar, ginger, lard or butter, and milk.

Roasted or boiled chestnuts, and chestnut flour, have been eaten by people in the Mediterranean region and Switzerland since the time of the earliest human settlements.

 

Chestnut Goodies Available Via Amazon.com

If you're not into cooking or don't have the time to do all the cooking or any of it, and still want to try some chestnut specialties, you can always look in your local Italian or Mediterranean shops, or pick from this selection available via Amazon.com (usually only shipped within the U.S., sorry!).  And not everything labeled 'Chestnut Puree' is really only a puree.  It is often a 'Chestnut Cream', so read the details carefully.

 

 

 

Please visit Candida Martinelli's Writing Website and Young-Adult Historical Mystery Series Website