While extremely common all over the world, chestnuts are often overlooked.
You see kids playing with them, but few know they are actually seen as a delicacy.
Indeed, those chestnuts you step on in the fall season can be cooked and eaten.
Obviously, there are more varieties out there and some of them are more suitable for human consumption.
Take a few minutes to look online and you will find hundreds of different recipes.
But then, what do chestnuts taste like? Are they actually worth the hassle? If you are like most people, you want to have some clues about the taste before actually cooking them.
What are Chestnuts?
There are more species of chestnuts out there.
In fact, each of them has its own origin.
Some of them come from shrubs, while the most common ones can be seen falling from trees in autumn.
All of them belong to the fagaceae beech family.
Common in the northern side of the world, chestnuts have gained notoriety on all continents.
Now, the interesting part is that chestnuts are often placed into two different categories – they are considered fruits, but they are also considered nuts.
They can be cooked in a plethora of different ways and while the aroma is similar, the texture and flavors tend to change.
Furthermore, they have a wide variety of health benefits, regardless of how you cook them.
Now that you know a thing or two about chestnuts, what do they actually taste like?
What Do Chestnuts Taste Like?
From many points of view, chestnuts are similar to other nuts in aroma and flavor.
Basically, they have that distinctive nutty savor that nothing else can replicate.
When raw, the taste is quite unusual and not very pleasant.
It may feel a bit sour, but the texture will also make it feel weird.
This is also why no one eats chestnuts raw.
Everything changes if you learn how to cook them though.
Their texture improves, but the cooking process also leaves all the flavors out.
In terms of aroma, chestnuts are a bit mild and less likely to dominate a dish.
This is also why they are suitable in both salty and sweet combinations.
From many points of view, they are similar to potatoes.
They are crunchy and slightly bitter when raw, but they become buttery if cooked by the book.
As for the flavor, it is similar to sweet potatoes.
Now, other nuts have a different composition that will also alter the taste.
For example, pine nuts or almonds – among many others – are high in healthy fats and low in moisture.
Chestnuts go in the opposite direction – they have little to no fat, but lots of moisture.
If you truly want to experience the taste, make sure you cook them first.
Proper cooking will help you get rid of the shell, but also reduce the tannic acid.
Tannic acid is associated with a series of negative health effects, so you want to get rid of it.
How to Prepare and Use Chestnuts in Recipes?
Roasting chestnuts is the most common way to get them done.
While not a general rule, most people would rather roast chestnuts than cooked them in other ways.
However, roasted chestnuts are often associated with holidays.
Nothing to worry about – you can find chestnuts and roast them whenever you want.
The roasting process will clear out the bitterness in chestnuts, as well as the dull raw taste.
Instead, the taste becomes a bit sweet.
AllRecipes also recommends rich soups based on chestnuts.
Indeed, this is not the most popular way to get them done, but it will give you extraordinary results.
Chestnuts should be peeled upfront and can be simmered in broth then – it is up to you to combine them with all sorts of ingredients.
The mild flavor will help.
Another way to prepare chestnuts implies pureeing them.
You can then finish the meal with some herbs or perhaps cream.
In terms of cautions, there is only one thing to remember – no one eats raw chestnuts because they taste bad and there is plenty of tannic acid in their composition.
Other than that, you can prepare them the way you want.
As a short final conclusion, the taste of chestnuts is definitely surprising.
If you love sweet potatoes, you will find it a bit similar.
The mild sweet flavor makes chestnuts suitable for a wide variety of combinations.
There are literally no restrictions because they can never take a dish over.
Widely available in commerce because they can be found everywhere, they are considered special and mostly cooked around holidays.
It is also worth noting that you can cook chestnuts in different ways, yet the roasted variety is by far the most popular option.