Originally from Asia Minor, the chestnut, the fruit of the chestnut tree, of the Fagaceae family, hides in a spicy case. Called a bug, this kind of shell is covered with multiple small spikes planted on thick bark with brown or slightly reddish hues.
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Here's how to find out what time of year to pick chestnuts, where to find it and be sure it's ripe. You can cook it and enjoy its nutritional values: it is rich in minerals, vitamins B9, C, E, fiber, protein, potassium. It is also used to create gluten-free flour.
When is the best time to pick chestnuts?
Between September and November – and sometimes December depending on the weather and the region, the period is good for picking chestnuts. This explains why the chestnut is nicknamed "the fruit of autumn".
Where to find chestnuts?
Woods, orchards and deciduous forests are the places where it is possible to find chestnuts easily. They are not picked from trees like apples. You have to look at the ground, to find the bugs that contain the achene. More than 700 varieties have been identified to date.
Did you know?
In 2014, the chestnut of Ardèche obtained the protected designation of origin (PDO).
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How do you know if the chestnuts are ripe?
If the leaves of the chestnut tree are also on the ground and their number multiplies, this is nature's signal that the chestnuts that have also fallen to the ground are ripe and can be picked up. They should be eaten in the following days, provided they are placed in a cool place in a crisper in the refrigerator. A warm, humid environment could cause them to mold faster.
Examine their weight, shake the shell: the fruit should not move. The shell must be shiny, smooth and without the presence of holes or alterations, marking the presence of a parasite, worm or other insect that has passed before you.
You can place your crop in a container containing water and keep only those that remain at the bottom, the others being hollow and therefore not edible.
Its mild flavor can be enjoyed in a savory or sweet dish, from puree to the accompaniment of the traditional turkey, including chestnut cream for dessert.
How to differentiate chestnut from chestnut?
Both rustic and refined, the chestnut, fruit with shell, is often confused with horse chestnut, from horse chestnut, very present in urban areas. The latter is round in shape, while the chestnut is triangular in shape, smaller in size, flattened and surmounted by a small point, which corresponds to the rest of the dried pistil. In addition, brown is not edible. Unlike the chestnut, which has several fruits in a brown and bristly bug, the chestnut is alone in a green bug with a few thorns.
If you are not sure if it is a chestnut, you can seek advice from a professional such as a pharmacist.