Chestnuts are the unique fruit of the species of deciduous trees, which can be found on nearly every continent across the globe. Chestnuts can be eaten a variety of ways and have a unique nutritional makeup, which allows them more versatility than most nuts. Chestnuts are high in fiber, low in calories, and rich in complex carbohydrates and Vitamin C.
Chestnuts grow on trees surrounded by a spiny shell, which begins to open as the fruit matures. Inside the spiny shell is a dark brown, shiny nut, with a starchy center. The starchy center, or endosperm, is the edible portion.
Chestnut Flavor and Texture
Chestnuts have a mild and slightly sweet flavor that makes them perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. The texture of a chestnut is similar to that of a potato, slightly crunchy when raw and softer when boiled, steamed, or roasted.
Chestnuts vs. Other Nuts
Chestnuts are unique compared to other nuts because of their low fat and high moisture content. Unlike most nuts, chestnuts are comprised primarily of carbohydrates, making them more nutritionally akin to a grain. Chestnuts are also set apart from other nuts because they should not be eaten freshen and preparation time can be arduous and time-consuming. For this reason, and the fact that they are in season relatively briefly, knowing the measurements for the different ways chestnuts are available is essential.
Chestnut Measures, Equivalents, and Substitutions
To make the most of the chestnuts year-round, learning to buy each type of chestnut, including shelled, peeled and dried chestnuts are the way to go. While you can get them fresh, you can also use canned whole chestnuts or chestnut puree in most recipes when they are out of season. Here are the measurements for each type of chestnuts with its equivalent substitutions.
- 1 pound in the shell = about 35 to 40 chestnuts
- 1 pound shelled, peeled = about 2 1/2 cups
- 1 cup cooked dried = 1 cup cooked fresh
- 1 1/2 pounds in shell = 1 pound shelled
- 8.25-ounce canned puree = 1 cup
- 1 pound shelled, peeled, cooked = 1 cup puree
- 3 ounces dried = 1 cup fresh
Ways to Eat Chestnuts
Chestnut flour, made from dried chestnuts, is available at health food stores and can be used to make gluten-free desserts and other staples such as pancakes and fritters. There are also other ways to eat chestnuts. Use them whole in stews and casseroles or as a purée instead of mashed potatoes or for dessert. Chestnut stuffing can accompany a roast for dinner, or be served as a side dish with any meat of your choice.