Botanical Name: Castanea sativa

Common Names: Bhūrā (Hin), castaño (Esp), Kaṣkoṭṭai (Tam)
Origin: most likely Greece

Description: Chestnuts date back to prehistoric times and have a remarkable history. Chestnuts are believed to have been planted by Romans and Alexander the Great during their European campaigns and it is believed that the Greek army survived by eating chestnuts during its retreat from Asia Minor from 401-399 B.C. In America the entire chestnut population was nearly wiped out by a fungus in the early 20th century. The devastation of the chestnut trees is known as the chestnut blight and the American production of chestnuts never regained its form as America is responsible for roughly one percent of the world’s chestnut production today.

The chestnut tree itself ranges in growth from the height of a shrub to as high as 200 feet depending on the species of the tree. While the American species of chestnut is typically the highest growing, both the European and American species of chestnut are faster growing than the Chinese and Asiatic species. All of the chestnut plants however are deciduous and its fruit is enclosed in a spiny yellow covering known as cupule.

Chestnuts are commonly peeled and eaten raw but are also very often roasted where they develop a texture similar to a baked potato. Chestnuts can also be prepared deep fried, candied, boiled, steamed or grilled.

Coming from the same family as oak, chestnut can be used as a timber which has a light brown coloring and is considered to be decorative. However it is not as strong a timber as oak and has a tendency to split.

Kitchen Pharmacy: Chestnuts help promote strong bones and are seen as helpful in preventing birth defects. In addition, chestnuts have antioxidant properties and help support cardiovascular health.

Nutrient Information: 1 oz


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