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Sweet Chestnuts

Find and eat delicious sweet chestnuts

Sweet Chestnuts


Sweet chestnut

The Sweet Chestnut tree produces delicious edible nuts which are usually roasted and eaten. When roasted and ground, the nuts can also be turned into sweet chestnut flour, or used in confectionary.

Sweet Chestnut Tree

Sweet chestnut tree, nuts and leaves

The sweet chestnut (castanea sativa) tree is a long-lived and fast growing tree brought to the UK from its native Southern Europe and Asia Minor by the Romans. It can reach up to 12 metres within 20 years, and up to a final maximum height of around 30 metres. The leaves are very long at 10-25cm and have an easily identified toothed edge.

Catkins growing on a sweet chestnut tree

In mid-summer catkins grow on the tree with male and female flowers. Each female flower matures into a spiky green fruit containing up to 3 chestnuts.

Sweet chestnuts

Harvesting and Eating Sweet Chestnuts

Sweet chestnuts are ready to be harvested in late autumn when they fall from the tree together with the leaves. Pick them up as soon as possible so they do not get damp on the floor (or taken away by grey squirrels).

If you want to eat the sweet chestnuts immediately then roast them having first cut a cross in the bottom. The cross makes the nut open up when it is cooking which makes it much easier to peel and eat them.

Roasted Sweet Chestnuts

If you want to keep the nuts until Christmas select only those nuts which have no cracks or holes in them. If you will eventually roast the nuts, hang them in mesh bags (onion bags or similar) so that air circulates around them. If they get damp they will quickly rot, so they must be hung somewhere well-ventilated and dry. If you want to use the chestnuts in recipes - for example, stuffing - then boil them for five minutes before cooling in cold water for a few more minutes. Peel them while still warm (since it is much harder to peel cold chestnuts) and then freeze.

Sweet Chestnut Recipes

Christmas chestnut stuffing Recipe - the perfect partner for turkey.
Chestnut cooking tips - advice and links to sweet chestnut recipes.
Sweet chestnut jam - the perfect way to preserve sweet chestnuts.

Article Published: 14:07, 11th Jul 2008

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