Harvest of the Month: Chestnuts

Chestnuts have been harvested and traded in the northern hemisphere for over three thousand years. Unlike other nuts and seeds, chestnuts are lower in calories and have less fat, while still delivering rich sources of vitamins and minerals. These nuts are mostly composed of starch, making their high fiber content helpful in lowering cholesterol. Chestnuts also stand out from other edible nuts with their high levels of vitamin C; only 100 grams of the nut contains 72% of your daily recommended value.

How to Select
Chestnuts are available October through May, but they typically peak in December. Choose fresh nuts that are smooth, glossy, and free of blemishes; healthy ones should feel heavy for their size. Avoid any that are shriveled, cracked, or rattle in their shell when shook, because that is a sign they’re drying out.

How to Store
It’s easy for fresh chestnuts to dry out, so keep them in a cool, dry place. Nuts still in their shells can be placed in a perforated bag and stored in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to a month, depending on their freshness at the time of purchase. Fresh chestnuts can be frozen whole and keep for up to four months.

How to Prepare
Enjoy chestnuts raw, boiled, or roasted. To prepare them either of these ways, first cut an “X” in the flat side to prevent them from bursting under pressure. After cooking, they can be enjoyed plain or with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Try chestnuts in the recipe for Chestnut and Celery Soup from Epicurious.

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