Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chestnut

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The chestnut, one of the symbols of autumn, is an edible fruit produced by trees of the genus Castanea native to northern temperate regions. The fruit is enclosed in a prickly husk between 4 and 11 centimetres in size which contains from 2 to 7 nuts.

Before potatoes and corn were brought to Europe from America, chestnuts were an important pillar of the diet in southern European countries: communities living near chestnut woods used them as their main source of carbohydrates, especially when cereal flour was not available.

Chestnuts were an essential calorie supply for both men and cattle, as they are rich in fats, proteins, minerals and vitamin C. Chestnuts were also used to make flour to bake bread, cakes and pasta. 


Chestnuts can be served raw, baked, boiled in milk or candied in syrup as in marron glacé. An easy way to cook them is by cutting a little incision on each nut and bake them on a metallic container for 10 to 15 minutes at 400 ºC.

In northern Spain, the tradicional chestnut harvest festival is carried out in late October or in November. One the most important festivals is the magosto held in Galicia and northern Portugal.


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