December is the height of chestnut season. They grow from mid-fall until early spring, and they peak right around the holidays. Nat King Cole made chestnuts synonymous with a picturesque Christmas when he sang the words “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose” in “A Christmas Song.”
Have you ever actually roasted chestnuts during the holidays? Or ever? If not, you may be surprised by the taste and texture. Inside, once they're cooked, the texture is firm but sort of spongy. One blogger compares it to the texture of a raw white mushroom. And the taste isn't like other nuts such as almonds or walnuts; it's more sweet and earthy.
They're healthy little morsels, too. Chestnuts contain no cholesterol and are low in sodium, fat and calories, plus they're a good source of fiber, B and C vitamins, and folates. They're also a source of copper, which the body needs in trace amounts to increase bone strength and help with red blood cell formation and nerve function.
This video from Chef Tips with Jason Hill shows how to choose, prepare, and roast chestnuts both over an open fire and in the oven.
Once you’ve roasted your chestnuts, what should you do with them? Here are a few recipes that call for roasted chestnuts.
- Pumpkin Soup with Cranberry Compote and Roasted Chestnuts
- Brussels Sprouts with Roasted Chestnuts
- Chestnut Soup with Crisp Prosciutto