April sees the start of the chestnut season. The versatile chestnut has been an important staple ingredient in the diet of Asia, Southern Europe and Turkey for centuries. Although they have been grown in Australia for over 100 years, larger more commercial plantings have taken place in the last 20 years. Chestnuts have a delicate sweet nutty flavour with a crumbly, almost baked potato-like texture (not your traditional nutty crunch!). They also contain a very low fat/oil content compared to other nuts.
Chestnuts are fabulous roasted on an open fire, and they give a unique flavour when used in stuffing, pasta, casseroles, pureed for sauces, soups (Chestnut soup is a winter classic), tarts and desserts. When buying chestnuts, look for shiny dark undamaged skin with flesh that feels firm and heavy. One kilogram of raw chestnuts will give you approximately 700g shelled nuts. Keep whole chestnuts in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 1 to 2 weeks. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Be sure to ask about the different chestnut varieties and which ones are best for boiling, roasting, pureeing and baking over the autumnal months. Get your chestnuts from Adelaide Hills Fresh Chestnuts.