The chestnuts are the deciduous trees and shrubs in the genus Castanea, in the beech family Fagaceae. They are native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
The name also refers to the edible nuts they produce.
The unrelated horse chestnuts (genus Aesculus) are not true chestnuts, but are named for producing nuts of similar appearance that are mildly poisonous to humans. True chestnuts should also not be confused with water chestnuts, which are tubers of an aquatic herbaceous plant in the sedge family Cyperaceae. Other species commonly mistaken for chestnut trees are the chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) and the American beech (Fagus grandifolia), both of which are also in the Fagaceae family. Brazil nuts, called “Brasil chestnuts” (castañas de Brasil in Spanish) or “chestnuts from Pará” (castanha-do-Pará in Portuguese) are also unrelated.
The name “chestnut” is derived from an earlier English term “chesten nut”, which descends from the Old French word chastain (Modern French, châtaigne). The French word in turn derives from Latin Castanea (also the scientific name of the tree), which traces to the Ancient Greek word κάστανον (sweet chestnut)
It has been a staple food in southern Europe, Turkey, and southwestern and eastern Asia for millennia, largely replacing cereals where these would not grow well, if at all, in mountainous Mediterranean areas. Evidence of its cultivation by man is found since around 2000 BC. Alexander the Great and the Romans planted chestnut trees across Europe while on their various campaigns. A Greek army is said to have survived their retreat from Asia Minor in 401–399 BC thanks to their stores of chestnuts. Ancient Greeks, such as Dioscorides and Galen, wrote of chestnuts to comment on their medicinal properties—and of the flatulence induced by eating too much of it. To the early Christians, chestnuts symbolized chastity. Until the introduction of the potato, whole forest-dwelling communities which had scarce access to wheat flour relied on chestnuts as their main source of carbohydrates. In some parts of Italy, a cake made of chestnuts is used as a substitute for potatoes. In 1583, Charles Estienne and Jean Liébault wrote, “an infinity of people live on nothing else but (the chestnut)”. In 1802, an Italian agronomist said of Tuscany that “the fruit of the chestnut tree is practically the sole subsistence of our highlanders”, while in 1879 it was said that it almost exclusively fed whole populations for half the year, as “a temporary but complete substitution for cereals”.
The Hundred-Horse Chestnut (Italian: Castagno dei Cento Cavalli; Sicilian: Castagnu dî Centu Cavaddi) is the largest and oldest known chestnut tree in the world. Located on Linguaglossa road in Sant’Alfio, on the eastern slope of Mount Etna in Sicily — only 8 km (5.0 mi) from the volcano’s crater — it is generally believed to be 2,000 to 4,000 years old.
Due to the high concentration of vitamin C and other antioxidant compounds in chestnuts, they are ideal for ‘boosting’ our immune system. In addition, due to the amount of magnesium, chestnuts are an excellent ally in improving bone density. Thus, due to the high concentration of various minerals found in chestnuts, we can slow down the onset of many age-related disorders, such as osteoporosis. Chestnuts are also a good source of folate. Folate belongs to the group of B vitamins, is useful for immunity and important for women in the reproductive phase of life. 70 mg of folate can be found in 100 grams of roasted chestnuts.
In folk medicine, the fruits were used to relieve problems with varicose veins and digestive disorders, and the leaves are used for respiratory problems.
But we mustn’t forget the chestnut honey.
Chestnut honey has a bitter taste and is not liked by many, but it is very healthy. Chestnut honey is also antibacterial. Honey also has an antioxidant effect because it contains substances called phenols.
Chestnut honey contains many grains of pollen, which gives it a bitter taste and, as a result, its vitamin value is higher than that of other types of honey. It contains minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, chloride, copper, sulfur, phosphorus, silicon, sodium, boron. Chestnut honey contains the most manganese, which helps in the formation of collagen. Among the vitamins, it contains the most B vitamins, such as thiamin, riboflavin, nicotinic acid, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folic acid.
But let’s look at the cuisine. Chestnut puree, roasted chestnuts, boiled chestnuts, chestnut puree sweets and more.
However, chestnuts are not only sweets and dessert. It can also be salted.
So, we need chestnuts, butter, broth, pepper, salt, heavy cream.
Wash the chestnuts well, cut them crosswise and let them cook. Boil them for about 5 minutes, drain, pour a little cold water and peel them. Cook the peeled chestnuts further in the broth. When the chestnuts are completely cooked, mash them well, salt and pepper them. Finally, add butter and a few spoonfuls of heavy cream to the puree. Mix well and serve. Salted chestnut puree prepared in this way can be served with roast meat, it is best in combination with venison.
And last but not least, let your imagination run free.