The fruit of chestnut is especially popular in France, Italy and Spain. The French even every year — on the third Tuesday of October — celebrate the Day of chestnuts.
And on the island of Corsica there is a curious custom.
Motherland edible chestnut, known throughout Europe, — Asia Minor, but already in ancient times it spread over very wide territories.
The fruits of chestnut are especially popular. in France, Italy and Of spain.
The French even every year — on the third Tuesday of October — celebrate Chestnut day.
And on the island of Corsica, there is a curious custom: the family of the bride as a proof of its viability should put 22 chestnut dishes on the wedding table.
In texture, chestnuts resemble potatoes: they contain a lot of starch; Baked, they almost crumble as well.
Chestnut is a good honey plant: chestnut honey not sugared for a very long time, it is brown in color, tart and slightly bitter.
Moreover, honey can be not only chestnut with edible fruits, but also decorative types of chestnut.
Types of chestnut trees are divided into giving edible and inedible (even poisonous) fruits.
Classic chestnut fruit, known in European cooking, gives chestnut seed (Castanea sativa).
It grows in the south of Europe, in Asia Minor, in Western Transcaucasia (Dagestan), the Crimea, Moldova and Ukraine.
This species includes, in particular, Spanish chestnuts from Galicia protected by geographic name. (IGP Castaña de Galicia).
Nutritional value and taste with chestnut seed successfully compete American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) and originating from Japan chestnut, the same Japanese (Castanea crenata).
All three of these species gave numerous valuable varieties.
Hybrid varieties were also bred using species. the softest chestnut, the same Chinese (Castanea mollissima) and chinkapin (Castanea pumila).
Different varieties of chestnuts differ from each other, for example, the size of the fruit.
So, chestnuts growing in Russia (in the Caucasus and the Crimea) are small as walnuts, whereas in Europe they can be the size of a good tangerine.
Especially large chestnuts in Europe are very much appreciated and usually are not exported. You can meet them in southern France, Spain and Italy (the most selective ones are in Sicily, just good ones are in the north of the country). In Piedmont, in Lombardy, on the streets you can see signs warning about the seasonal fall of chestnuts; during this very fall, passers-by, not hesitating, pick up a crop, lay out, satisfied, according to their cases and bags — still, you don’t have to pay three euros per kilo, as in a supermarket!
In the north of Italy, wild chestnut forests, extremely rare for Europe, have been preserved, where in September-October they are sent with baskets by entire companies.
In Japan are very much appreciated chestnuts from tamba (Castanea crenata var. Tamba) — local variety of chestnut. This chestnut grows in the northern areas of Osaka Prefecture and the adjacent areas of Hyogo and Kyoto Prefectures. These chestnuts are larger (often with a chicken egg) and tastier compared to chestnuts in other areas, and the price for them, respectively, is higher.
Fresh Tamba chestnuts gathered in autumn are so sweet that there is no need to add sugar to them.
All edible types of chestnut are good honey plants.
Chestnuts with inedible fruits (for example, horse chestnut) may well be honey plants.
Add that Guinean chestnut, the same pakhira (Pachira) It has only the resemblance with the above types of chestnut: it is a plant of a completely different biological family.
The genus includes 24 species, the fruits of three of them are fit for human consumption.
These fruits are oval, elongated nuts of olive color up to 25 cm in length with edible seeds.
All over the world, chestnuts are perceived as the staple food, that is, the main task of chestnut dishes is to feed people.
Chestnuts are very nourishing and in their nutritional characteristics are close to potatoes and rice.
Chestnuts lack a pronounced taste and aroma.
Their taste is rather neutral, so chestnuts are very convenient for making salads, appetizers, soups, main dishes, desserts, pastries.
Chestnuts blend equally well with salt and sugar — they simply absorb the taste of the added ingredients.
The number one recipe in Europe is chestnuts, fried over an open fire. This is a long-term European, not only French, tradition: people in the fall, especially in September-October, go on picnics, sit in gardens and bake chestnuts.
Hot chestnuts, straight from the roaster, are peeled and eaten, washed down with either fresh apple cider, or freshly aged young wine.
What kind of treats from chestnuts are not cooked: boiled, fried, stewed, baked, served as a side dish to meat and fish, added to cakes, pies and sweets, put into soup and rice, stuffed turkey, goose or piglet with them, make them flour and bake bread and pies, even prepare a drink that replaces coffee.
In France, there are two desserts of chestnuts, which are especially popular.
For the first — maroon glase (Marron glacé) — chestnuts are cleaned and boiled in sugar syrup, then dried for three to four days.
This crispy sweetness is considered a delicacy in France (unlike many other chestnut dishes).
The second recipe is Mont blanc aux marrons, chestnut puree — much simpler: chestnuts are boiled and whipped in a blender, and then sugar is added to the mass.
Insofar as chestnut cleaning — This is a rather complicated procedure, there are some tricks that can facilitate this process. Chestnuts can be cleaned easily if you incise their skin in a circle and boil them for three minutes, in which a tablespoon of vegetable oil is added.
It is better to clean them before they cool down.
Another trick is to put chestnuts in the freezer for the night, then throw them into the boiling water and almost immediately place them under a stream of cold water.
This will also greatly facilitate the cleaning process.
If chestnuts are prepared with the peel, it must be pierced in several places or a cross-cut is made on it.
If you do not break the integrity of the shell, when heated chestnut explode.
Chestnut season in many countries it starts in September (and in Japan — and even earlier: at the very end of summer).
However, the main season of chestnuts — october and november.
The last fresh chestnuts (not subjected to any kind of preservation or freezing) can be bought in Europe for Christmas.
Edible chestnuts come on sale in three forms: fresh unpeeled, fresh frozen peeled and pickled (canned).
Pickled — already finished product, without additional processing, they can be added to a salad, for example, in combination with an orange or smoked duck breast fillet.
Fresh frozen chestnuts you need to pre-fry and then use, say, in a soup with porcini mushrooms.
Fresh unpeeled chestnuts need to incise, cover with foil and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, then salt and eat just like eating seeds or corn.
When buying fresh chestnuts, give preference to round, hard chestnuts without blemishes and damage to the shell.
Chestnut nuts are almost half of the water, so they can not be stored for a long time: after 4-5 days they become dry and shriveled.
It is possible to determine the freshness of a chestnut by pressing on it with a finger: if the shell is deformed, it means that the nut has been on the counter for several days already.
Store chestnuts at home in a cool, dry place, but not more than 4-5 days.
Do not store them in plastic bags, as they may become moldy.
Both raw and roasted chestnuts can be stored in the freezer for about six months.
More recently, this fruit, in some places replacing potatoes and corn for the locals, was completely altogether to us.
Chestnut season to wait a long time, but Marina Pankova now knows how to solve gastronomic.
Now all the French take the baskets and go to the forest for chestnuts. And Julia Andreyanova went to Moscow.
If you have never eaten chestnuts, buy a little at first — on trial. The sweet taste of these.