Chestnuts are quite different from other nuts both nutritionally and culinarily. They have a sweet nutty taste, but a texture more like a baked potato. Nutritionally, chestnuts are more like a wholegrain as they are low in fat, contain protein as well as carbohydrates and dietary fibre. They contain a similar profile of vitamins and minerals to other tree nuts, but their higher water content means the concentration of these nutrients are lower.
A 30g serve is about 4 chestnuts.
|Nutrient||Per 100g||Per 30g|
|Total fat (g)||0.6||0.2|
|Saturated fat (g)||0.1||0.03|
|Monounsaturated fat (g)||DU||DU|
|Polyunsaturated fat (g)||DU||DU|
|Omega 3 ALA||DU||DU|
|Dietary fibre (g)||8.1||2.4|
|Niacin (mg eq)||2.5||0.8|
|Folate DFE (ug)||70||21|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.5||0.2|
|Vitamin E (mg)||0.5||0.2|
Given their different profile compared to other tree nuts, Chestnuts’ established health effects also differ. Chestnuts have been associated with:
- A low GI diet can help to manage blood glucose and insulin levels, and may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Chestnut meal has a low glycaemic index .
What makes chestnuts unique
- Chestnut meal has a low glycaemic index (GI) of 54. A low GI diet can help to manage blood glucose and insulin levels, and may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease .
- Chestnuts are the only nuts that contain vitamin C, with a serve providing around 20% of the RDI.
- They are low in total fat and saturated fat, and naturally low in sugar and sodium.
- Chestnuts are a source of fibre and folate.
Where they are grown
Australian chestnuts are grown principally in the southern states of Australia, including Orange, Southern Tablelands, Blue Mountains and Batlow (New South Wales); Northern and Central Tasmania; North-east and Central, and East of Melbourne (Victoria); Adelaide Hills (South Australia); South-west (Western Australia). Around 70% of Australia’s production is located in the North East of Victoria.
Forms and best eaten with…
- You can buy fresh chestnuts to roast at home from mid-March to July.
- Ready to use peeled and frozen Australian chestnuts, along with other chestnut products, including vacuumed packed cooked and peeled chestnuts are available throughout the year.
- Chestnuts are incredibly versatile, and can be eaten whole – freshly roasted, halved, in pieces or pureed.
- They can be added to hearty stews and casseroles, spicy Asian stir-fries, added to stuffings and into creamy soups. They also work well in sweet dishes such as mousses and tiramisus and even bliss balls.
Preparing and cooking chestnuts
According to Chestnuts Australia, there are many ways to prepare chestnuts. Before cooking, cut a shallow cross into the flat side of the shell, this prevents the nut from overheating and bursting while cooking. When boiling, cut the chestnuts in half across the width of the chestnut before cooking.
Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced). Place prepared chestnuts onto a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the shells split open.
Grilling or BBQing
Cut a shallow cross into the flat side of each chestnut. Place chestnuts on a tray under a moderate to hot grill or place directly on a barbecue grill. Cook for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the shells blacken and split open, turning every few minutes.
Place prepared chestnuts into a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the flesh is tender and easily separates from the shell.
Place 6-8 prepared chestnuts in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Cook, uncovered, on full power (850 watts or high) for 2-3 minutes or until the flesh is tender. Timing can vary depending on chestnut size and microwave power.
Once cooked, remove chestnuts from the heat and wrap in a clean tea towel for 5-10 minutes and then, while still warm quickly peel off the outer brown shell and remove the papery thin skin underneath.
- Fresh chestnuts can be refrigerated in a paper bag in the crisper for 2-3 days or in an airtight container for up to 10 days.
- Cooked chestnuts can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Peeled and unpeeled chestnuts store perfectly in the freezer for year-round goodness.
- Livesey, G., et al., Glycemic response and health--a systematic review and meta-analysis: relations between dietary glycemic properties and health outcomes. Am J Clin Nutr, 2008. 87(1): p. 258s-268s.