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Chestnuts: Differences, characteristics and properties

by Ada Parisi
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Ada Parisi

Today we are talking about chestnuts and browns, two autumn fruits rich in calories and carbohydrates. Excellent in the kitchen, versatile, perfect in both sweet and savoury preparations, for years these fruits have been the food of the poor, but now they've been rediscovered at the #8217;inside a modern, gourmet kitchen. Among other things, Chestnuts and browns are completely GLUTEN FREE and the flour made from these fruits is essential for the’feeding of coeliacs, especially for the preparation of fluffy and good cakes, as the CHESTNUTS AND CHOCOLATA CASTAGNACCIO , but gluten-free.

First of all, we have to say that chestnuts and browns are not the same thing, even though they're genetically similar: Chestnut is the fruit of the wild chestnut tree (scientific name Castanea sativa, also called ‘bread tree’ because for decades the chestnut fed populations of hills and mountains across Europe). While brown is the tree planted, that is made more productive and of standardized quality by the hand of the man. The difference, though, it's not just in the’tree from which the two fruits come. There are also visual and taste differences. In addition to price.

The chestnuts

Visually, chestnuts are of more irregular size and shape, are smaller and have an irregular surface. The color of the outer skin is darker and the skin is thicker. The inner skin often penetrates deeply into the pulp, making cleaning more complex. Chestnuts are also less flavorful and are often used to produce creams, thickeners and farts, excellent for preparing traditional recipes like cASTAGNACCIO.


Browns, instead, are larger and more regular-shaped, have a lighter outer skin, thin and shiny and the slightly hairy inner skin is easier to remove. In addition, browns contain more sugar, and are therefore tastier and tastier. They are the fruit used in bakery, to prepare the wonderful brown glacè. The cost? Of course, browns cost a lot more than chestnuts.

The oriental chestnut gall wasp

In Italy, there are, between chestnuts and browns, 13 products DOP (Protected designation of origin) or Igp (Protected geographic indication). In addition, They are protected by the DOP also Chestnuts Lunigiana Dop and flour Neccio Garfagnana (source Qualivita).

Unfortunately, in recent years a dangerous parasite, the oriental chestnut gall wasp, He has decimated harvests chestnuts, putting at risk the very survival of the species. The bug has been eradicated thanks to its natural antagonist, Torymus sinensis and in 2018 the collection of chestnuts and brown Italian touched the 30 million pounds, 80% higher than five years ago, when the gall imperversavi across Europe. A huge economic loss to Italy which is the third largest producer of chestnuts in the world after China and Turkey.

Chestnuts PDO and PGI

Among the chestnuts are 3 fruits IGP and DOP:

  • In Tuscany there is CHESTNUT AMIATA IGP
  • CHESTNUT Montella IGP Apennines Avellinese in Campagnia
  • The only Dop is CHESTNUT VALLERANO in the province of Viterbo, Lazio

As for the brown, 7 are PGI and PDO 2.

  • OF BROWN COMBAI IGP in the Treviso, in Veneto
  • Also in Veneto c’ isresponsible BROWN MONFENERA IGP
  • BROWN CASTEL DEL RIO IGP in the province of Bologna, Emilia Romagna
  • In Tuscany we find BROWN MUGELLO IGP , in the province of Florence
  • Is’ The newest IGP, DI SERINO BROWN, nell'avellinese, in Campania
  • Marrone di Roccadaspide IGP in the province of Salerno, in Campania.
  • Is’ Instead the Dop BROWN OF SAN ZENO, which comes from the Monte Baldo near Verona, in Venero
  • And it is the Dop Marrone di Caprese Michelangelo, produced in the municipality of the province of Arezzo, in Tuscany

The calories chestnuts: make you fat?

The chestnut harvest takes place, according to the area, between early September and November. Whether both brown chestnuts are a rich carbohydrate fruit. In ancient times it was used as a substitute for cereals and breads) and then sugar, both simple and complex. They have a very high calorie, that depends on their conservation: chestnuts or fresh brown, In fact, They have fewer calories, about 190 per 100 grams. But if you eat dried chestnuts, you have to be careful, because the calories climb at an altitude of 350 to 100 grams (because they are dehydrated and, having lost water, weigh more and sugars are more concentrated).

the roasted chestnuts, instead, They have about 250 calories per 100 grams while the boiled chestnuts have about 130 calories per 100 grams and, swelling with water, become more satiating. From these numbers, it is obvious that the chestnuts should be consumed as an alternative to other cereals (bread, pasta, rice). Whether both brown chestnuts, In fact, They lend a lot to replace grains in soups and stews, as well as becoming part of tasty risotto or as protagonists of gourmet pasta dishes.

The benefits of chestnuts

In addition to carbohydrates, and therefore to sugar, But chestnuts are rich in fiber and important nutrients. From essential amino acids such as aspartic acid, gluammico acid, serine and arginine. Chestnuts also contain vitamin C, provitamin A and several B vitamins are essential for our well-being as the B9, or folic acid, essential for pregnant women. They also contain potassium and are low in sodium. In addition to being completely gluten-free, and therefore suitable in the form of flour, cream or thickener, the feeding of celiac.

Chestnuts in the kitchen

In the kitchen they are versatile and elegant chestnut brown. Both fruits are ideal, both fresh and dried or ground into flour, a sweet or savory preparations. Indeed, Italian regional cuisines are rich recipe made with chestnuts. From the Mont Blanc, a cake made of chestnut puree and whipped cream, to get to Neccio of Lucca and Pistoia, a pancake stuffed with chestnut flour with curd. Among the most famous recipes made with chestnut flour is definitely one of the cASTAGNACCIO, traditionally topped with raisins, pine nuts and rosemary. Chestnut flour, gluten-free, You can also be used to prepare soft and delicious cakes, sweet and slightly smoky aftertaste like CHESTNUTS AND CHOCOLATA CASTAGNACCIO , perfect for breakfast celiac or gluten intolerant.

If you prefer the salty, missed the combination of meat, mushrooms and chestnuts in main dishes, as the PORK TENDERLOIN WITH BEER AND CHESTNUT or the sumptuous ROAST PORK WITH MUSHROOMS AND CHESTNUT.

For those who love pasta dishes and soups, chestnuts were the focus of gourmet risotto as the RISOTTO WITH LEEK AND CHESTNUT with red wine reduction, or the elegant RISOTTO WITH MUSHROOMS, CHESTNUT AND BLACK TRUFFLE (perfect for parties) the PAPPARDELLE CHESTNUT with homemade ROMAN BROCCOLI and FONDUE CHEESE, hearty SOUP AND CHESTNUT VERZE with EGG IN SHIRT.

Do not forget that with chestnut flour can also create breads breakfast pastries, nutritious and tasty but with less sugar than traditional ones (exploiting the sugar content of the chestnut) as the BREAD OF CHESTNUT IN DARK CHOCOLATE. Among the desserts, try the wonderful TART WITH CHESTNUT CREAM SAUCE AND PERSIMMON, prepared by exploiting the jam chestnuts ready, the CREAM OF CHESTNUT FRESH PERSIMMON with and DARK CHOCOLATE, And the Pavlova TO CHESTNUT, NOCCIOLE and PERSIMMON, easy to prepare and amazing.



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