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UPDATE April 14th 2016 - We have a new website promoting Liverpool!
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Sunday, 5 June 2011

Chestnuts, Chestnuts, Chestnuts

Chestnuts should not be confused with horse chestnuts (genus Aesculus), which are unrelated to Castanea and are named for producing nuts of similar appearance but of no notable edibility. Nor should they be confused with water chestnut (family Cyperaceae), which are also unrelated to Castanea and are tubers of similar taste from an aquatic herbaceous plant. Other trees commonly mistaken for the chestnut tree are the chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) and the American beech. The name Castanea is probably derived from the old name for the Sweet Chestnut which can reach 60 meters in height.
Fresh chestnut fruits have 180 calories per 100 grams of edible parts which is much lower than walnuts, almonds, other nuts and dried fruits. Chestnuts as with all plants foods contain no cholesterol and very little fat. Their carbohydrate content compares with that of wheat or rice; chestnuts have twice as much starch as the potato. Chestnuts are the only nuts that contain vitamin C.
The American Chestnut tree is native to north America and have been enjoyed for generations by the Aboriginal Indians. Mature trees often grew straight and branch-free for 50 feet(15 m), up to 100 feet, averaging up to 5 feet in diameter.
In the spring these towering trees display their showy flowers and in autumn the ground is covered with the spiny balls that encase the nut. Liverpool has a fine display of these majestic trees where one is sure to enjoy the shade in the summer and the tasty nuts throughout the winter months.
Horse chestnut is a familiar Nova Scotian deciduous tree, well known for its large, compound leaves and colourful fruit in their spiky cases. Although this fruit is similar to the edible, sweet chestnut, the two trees are unrelated.
Horse chestnuts are toxic. Children, especially, are attracted by the luster of the fruit, which traditionally were strung and struck against one another in the game of “conkers.”
Roasted Chestnuts
1.When selecting chestnuts, pick the ones that are full, dark and shiny. Avoid ones that are dull on the outside and shriveled inside. This will reduce the likelihood of there being mold inside.
2. Slit chestnuts with one long slit from top to bottom (or make an X), using a strong, straight edge knife. Be careful not to cut yourself as the nuts can be wobbly. This will allow steam to escape and prevent them from exploding in the oven. They will also be easier to peel.
3. Set oven to "broil" and pre-heat it to 425°F (218°C). Broiling, rather than baking, gives them more of a fire-roasted flavour.
4. Place the chestnuts on a metal baking pan and put it in the oven close to the top heating element. Broil for about 20 minutes, gently stirring or shaking chestnuts midway so they roast evenly. If you are using a gas stove (which tend to be hotter), watch that they don't burn.

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