SWEET CHESTNUT



Both the inner bark & leaves are used on these medicinal trees & the nuts are a wonderful, nutritious food.
The nuts are an excellent source of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus & zinc, besides providing a very good amount of potassium.
Of all tree nuts chestnuts are the best source of antioxidants.

Chestnuts strengthen the kidney-adrenal system & bolster the immune system to fight off the flu & combat infections.

The leaves are used to control severe coughing & other irritations of the respiratory tract such as whooping cough & bronchitis .
Sweet Chestnut is used for digestive tract disorders including diarrhea, bloody stools, nausea & other stomach disorders.
Other uses include treatment of disorders affecting the legs & circulation, fever, infection, swelling, kidney disorders, muscle pain, a connective tissue disorder called sclerosis & swelling of the lymph nodes due to tuberculosis infection.

Sweet chestnut can be used as a gargle for sore throat.
Can be applied directly to the skin for treating wounds.

Leaves can be used to make astringent poultices for burns & with the juice of the leaves quell the unbearable itching of skin rashes such as poison ivy.  

Sweet chestnut leaves & bark are a good source of tannins & these have an astringent action useful in the treatment of bleeding.
The leaves & bark are anti-inflammatory, expectorant & tonic.
Can be used fresh or dried.
An infusion has been used in the treatment of fevers & ague.
The leaves can also be used in the treatment of rheumatism, to ease lower back pains & to relieve stiff muscles & joints.


RECIPES:

Enjoy chestnuts raw, boiled or by roasting.
To roast, make few small incisions over the dome-side to prevent bursting.
The nuts are used as one of the main ingredients in poultry stuffing, especially in Thanksgiving turkey.
Chestnut flour is also favored in many Tuscany recipes such as polenta, sweet breads, biscuits, cakes, soups & ice-cream. 
They are also used to make chestnut butter-cream.

A tablespoon full of the infusion made from chestnut leaves can be given 3-4  times per day.

Marron glace:

Extremely popular in Europe where large sized, high quality European chestnuts used.

2 kg unshelled fresh chestnuts
2 1/2 cups water
1 kg sugar
1 vanilla bean
Using a sharp knife, cut an "X" into the flat side of each chestnut, making sure to pierce the outer & inner skin.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Add the scored chestnuts & boil for 5 minutes.
Carefully drain the chestnuts, discarding the water.
Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Peel the chestnuts, discarding the outer shells & inner skins.
Return the peeled chestnuts to the pot, add the water, sugar & vanilla bean & bring to a simmer.
Reduce the heat to low & simmer gently until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high & boil for an additional 5 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat & carefully pour the chestnuts & the syrup into a heatproof bowl.
Cover & set aside for 12 hours.
Return the chestnuts & the syrup to the pot, bring to a boil & boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, transfer to a heatproof bowl, cover & set aside for another 12 hours.
Repeat the process a third time, until much of the syrup has been absorbed.
Preheat the oven to 150 C.
Line a couple of rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper & place the drained chestnuts on the paper in a single layer.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until firm but not dry.
Set aside to cool. Transfer to a resealable container lined with wax paper & store at room temperature.

Pureed marron glace add flavor to Bavarian cream, ices, puddings, pastries & sweets. 

Mont Blanc:

Classical French dessert prepared with a meringue or sable pastry base topped with chestnut puree & Chantilly cream.

2 egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of cream of tartar
125 g caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
6 marron glacé, sliced, to serve
50 g plain chocolate (50% cocoa solids), finely grated, to serve
Icing sugar, to serve

For the chestnut cream:
300 ml whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
250 g sweetened chestnut purée

Preheat the oven to 110°C & line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Pencil 6 x 9cm circles on the paper, spaced apart.
Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt in a bowl until foamy.
Add the cream of tartar & beat to soft peaks.
Beat in 2 tbsp sugar, until stiff peaks form, then fold in the remainder with a metal spoon along with the vanilla.
Spoon into a large piping bag fitted with a plain 1cm nozzle & pipe rounds onto the paper, using the circles as a guide.
Bake for 11/2 hours or until firm to the touch.
Cool on a wire rack.
In a bowl, beat the cream & vanilla extract until just stiff.
Spoon generous amounts on the top of each meringue.
Transfer to plates.
Beat the chestnut purée to loosen.
Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 3mm plain nozzle.
Pipe wiggly lines over the cream & meringue.
Gently push in the marrons glacé slices.
Sprinkle with grated chocolate & dust the Mont Blancs with icing sugar to serve.

Roasted Chestnuts:

Cut a cross on the flat side of each nut & place in a heavy skillet.
Add about ½ a teaspoon of butter per cup of chestnuts & roast on a medium heat until the butter is melted.
Put the pan in the oven at 220 C & allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven & take off the shells with a small sharp knife.

Baked Apples with Chestnut Stuffing:

Roast the chestnuts, shell & mince.
Mix with raisins, sultanas, oats & honey.
Remove the apple core & fill the hole with the stuffing.
Place on baking sheet & bake in the oven until the apples are soft.
Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Chestnut Mousse:

500 g of Chestnuts
~75 ml of sugar or honey
2 tbs of cocoa powder
2 tbsp of amaretto
250 ml whipping cream
Shell & peel chestnuts.
Boil until tender.
Drain & add sugar or honey, cocoa & Amaretto.
Blend in a food processor until smooth.
Beat whipping cream until stiff.
Fold into chestnut puree.
Divide among dessert glasses.
Chill.
Decorate with whipped cream & chocolate shavings.
The mousse can also be used as a cake filling.

MAGIC:

Sweet Chestnuts were used in divination ritual. Girls set named nuts on the fire bars & chanted:
Maidens, name your chestnuts true.
The first to burst belongs to you!
The favoured suitor's nut would 'burst with love for her'.



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