October 04, 2016
Chestnut time is coming.
Chestnut comes from Asia minor, Balkans and Caucasus. Side by side with the pistachio, it was an important caloric element to the pre-historic Man.
The name comes from the English term "chest nut" that comes from the old French "chastain". All the most ancient languages have the identical name for the fruit.
During the times, many ways were used for the chestnut: The Greeks and the Romans put them in amphoras with honey preserving it and giving it flavour. In the Middle Age, in monasteries, chestnuts was used in many recipes.
But what is the chestnut? Where it comes from?
Is the chestnut a fruit? Actually, the chestnut is a seed being the fruit of the chestnut tree is called the bur. The bur is very sharp and inside of it comes the seed or the chestnut. In each fruit can come 3 to 7 seeds.
The height of the tree changes from what type of chestnut we are talking being the American the bigger.Because the flowers are not compatible, two trees are needed for pollination.
The Chestnut arrive in Europe from Sardis, being called in the time Sardian nut. There is evidence of the presence of chestnut since around 2000 BC. Until the introduction of potato or in the region where cereals would not grow well, chestnut was a staple food and a good source of carbohydrates.
The biggest producing countries of chestnut are China, Turkey, and Italy. Portugal is in number 8 with an average of 20 thousand kilos of production. China has over 1.5 million ( that's a lot of chestnuts!)
The Production in Portugal is quite big and 4 regions have even the Protected origin denomination ( P.O.D): Castanha da Padrela, Castanha da Terra Fria, Castanha do Marão-Portalegre, Castanha dos Soutos da Lapa.
The region of Padrela has the biggest continuous spots of Chestnut tree of all Europe with a production of over 10 thousand chestnuts per year.
In Madeira region is it made a chestnut liquor that is famous among tourists.
Chestnut jam is also made in Portugal with big success, here it's a good example.
But more than the liquor, the jam or any recipe used in Portugal with chestnut ( pork with them are just perfect), St. Martin's Day is the biggest event for the celebration of this seed. Celebrated on 11 of November, is the feast if St Martin of Tours ( a bishop of Tours, being one of the most famous Christians saints). His days is celebrated in many countries. In Portugal means the maturation of the red wine.
In that day a bonfire is set, and chestnut is eaten roasted and drinking a local alcoholic beverage (água-pé).
Even that chestnut is a nut they have few protein or fat. Their calories come from the carbohydrates having around 180 calories each fresh chestnut.
They are the only nut that contains vitamin C.
You can eat it raw ( when they are fresh and ripe they are just perfect), roasted, boiled or even dried and milled to flour. We haven't finished: candied, deep fried, steamed, the possibilities are endless.
So, next time you see them in the store, fill up a bag and try some of this recipes
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