The chestnut trees (and chestnut trees) are about to disembark in the streets with those traditional stalls where we can delight with paper cones full of chestnuts. It is true that the clientele is no longer crowded as in the past to enjoy them, since at home we can also taste them without losing an iota of its charm as a street aperitif
In Galicia, of course, they know what we are talking about because every year they pay homage to the chestnut with the celebration of the ‘magosto’, a festival that pays tribute to the countryside, the crops, the fire, the good wines and, above all, the friends with whom this delicious autumn snack is shared.
If we are so fortunate to have a chestnut forest, especially abundant in El Bierzo and Galicia, where we provide naturally (without the need for intermediaries) this rich nut while enjoying an autumn walk, much better! And if the children join the expedition, the experience already becomes round. In case you choose this option, we must have a good stick to prick and collect the chestnuts, a basket to keep them and, if possible, gloves to protect us from the small spikes that wrap the chestnuts just fallen from the tree. Also a very useful tool is a rake that helps us clear the area of chestnut litter that hides this tremendous treasure.
The chestnut tree was always here
A tree, by the way, is autochthonous, although for a long time it was taken for granted that it was the Romans who imported it to the peninsula. This is reflected in research led by the University of Oviedo which confirms the endemic nature of the Asturian chestnut tree. The data is important since this finding may have important repercussions on the planning and forest management of the species in northern regions such as Galicia, León, the Basque Country, Asturias or Cantabria. In Spain, we are losing forest area dedicated to chestnut trees, as species with faster growth and profitability are being privileged, such as pines or eucalyptus.
In addition to its rich flavour, this dried fruit has plenty of reasons to encourage us to eat it. On the one hand, the great abundance of vitamins of the B group, in addition to minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium or phosphorus.
Also worth mentioning are vitamin C and folic acid, although we cannot overlook the fact that, when cooked, some of these nutrients are lost. In fact, vitamin C usually disappears completely, while folic acid is almost halved. However, we can allow ourselves, without the scale being affected by it, a good banquet of chestnuts as they only provide 165 calories per hundred grams. So it is not a capital sin for those who hold their line in very high esteem to be fed up with them.
Chestnuts are also highly recommended for patients suffering from rheumatism due to excess uric acid. Also for those who consume meat in abundance, as the large amount of alkalizing substances present in chestnuts help neutralize acids in the blood, which can be easily evacuated through the urine.
The chestnut has a great abundance of vitamins of the B group, in addition to minerals such as potassium
It is evident that the golden age of chestnuts has passed, since before it was considered a subsistence product until potatoes became popular. However, we can talk about certain regions of Spain where consumption is quite high. Thus, the greatest devotees of the chestnut are the Cantabrians (with 1.3 kg per inhabitant and year), the canaries (with 0.8 kg) and those who have less passion for chestnuts are the Extremaduran (0.2 kg) and the Aragonese (0.3 kg). What is certain is that chestnuts are the protagonists of various gastronomic fairs in many areas of northern Spain, such as Galicia, where the aforementioned ‘magosto’ is held, in Cantabria, but also in the south, in the villages of the Serranía de Estepona (Málaga).
And how do we enjoy chestnuts?
Well, we’re not going to be short of ways to taste them. Even a milk with hazelnuts has begun to be marketed. Their recipe is very simple: boil the chestnuts, previously peeled, then cook them in milk with sugar and serve them at the temperature that pleases us the most. That’s all. In short, a dish of all life that in Galicia is practically a philosophy of life.
And although roasted chestnuts are great and no one disputes their tremendous flavor, there are other ways to cook them that also deserve our full attention: have you tried them cooked? Here’s the recipe:
- 1 kilo of chestnuts
Peel the chestnuts, remove their shells, but keep the skin inside. Put them to cook in cold water. Make sure they are covered and add a pinch of salt and aniseed seeds. Let them cook over medium heat until they are tender. Enjoy this delicious autumn agape!