Nutritionally Conservation Identification; botany For eating Microwave preparation
Nutritional information for chestnuts (rare on the web):
...look for a link to "Recipes and Nutritional information by courtesy of the Chestnut Growers of Australia Ltd"...
that's where to find information on their vitamin, mineral, and (suprisingly little!) fat content.
The American Chestnut (Castanea dentata), one of the noblest trees of the original forests of eastern North America,
is now almost extinct. The chestnut blight plague of the early 20th century killed off the vast majority. To learn about the restoration of this
lost resource for wildlife, humankind, and the natural beauties of America, visit the web site of the
American Chestnut Foundation and learn how efforts at the restoration of the American Chestnut to its old status have been
proceeding - and how you also can help.
[ ... other links to be added. ]
Chestnuts to the taste, as eaten.
Chestnuts, compared to other nuts, are oddballs that don't fit into the usual classification schemes:
- botanically a nut, part of the fruit of trees of the Castanea genus in the family Fagaceae (related: oaks/acorns, beech trees/beech nuts). The American Chestnut (nearly extinct since early 20th century) is Castanea dentata.
A seed with a hard shell and containing a fleshy seed-embryo. Describable accurately - to distinguish from the distinctly inedible Horsechestnut - as a round brown nut enclosed in a spiny/bristly [not just nubbled] bur or husk before ripening, the brown color being dark but not very shiny looking, and with a darker brown oval at the top... no white spots anywhere!
- culinarily more like a vegetable of the starchy kind e.g. corn, owing to the following qualities:
- Perishability: Unless refrigerated, they spoil quickly, even in dry storage. They are sold in supermarkets in a bin with other nuts, but really ought to be in the cooled or refrigerated produce section! Drying them doesn't help much: hardened chestnut meat is not so good.
- Oil content: Most nuts are roughly 50% fat. Chestnuts are less than 5 % fat, and what fat is in them is healthful.
- Taste: Not precisely nutty ... a good fresh chestnut well roasted has a sweet aromatic starchy taste, not close to but analogous to that of corn-on-the-cob.
"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..."
...says the song by the late Mel Torme. In old-fashioned holiday gatherings, each person placed a chestnut on the hearth, then waited for whose nut would be first to explode. But, nowadays, who has a fireplace in common use? A microwave oven can be used instead, with good results; see the 'recipe' below (-Really a set of instructions on roasting chestnuts in a microwave.)
Roasted Chestnuts Moderne
Okay, how long? In a typical microwave, operated by an amateur, 8 nuts should be given about a minute to a minute and thirty seconds. This doesn't get appreciably greater for greater amounts that I noticed... a minute and forty-five seconds seems about right for a batch of 20...
- Don't overcook. Overdone chestnuts are dry, hard to chew, and lose their aroma.
- Don't do too many at a time. About 6-to-8 is ideal. - By the time you've cracked 8 of them, the rest will be too cooled-down for the best appreciation of their flavor.
For more than one person, multiply 6-to-8 by the appropriate number.
- Don't use a nutcracker unless you've got sore / overly delicate / long fingernails. Once roasted, the shells are friable and easily cracked without aid.
- Take a pointed item - two-tined fork ideally, or knife or scissors - and pierce each chestnut before roasting. As with the potato, but to an even greater extent, unpierced chestnuts tend to explode. This may be fun - and puffed chestnut is quite good hot - but tends to mess up the interior of the microwave. ( - On a hearth, needless to say, there is less chance of dirtying surfaces!)
If they're too dry, try dipping in butter or margarine before eating. Like corn-on-the-cob (-which is also similar in being best served in a somewhat informal setting.)
- Web page created January 14 2000, and updated January 16-18-19-22(-27)-31, research by Russell Hess, HTML page design and text layout by 'UpSky' sites.
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