Chestnuts, the fruits of the Ligurian autumn!


It is October, the chestnuts season! During this period in Liguria, you can find the numerous Sagra delle Castagne (the feasts of the chestnuts). It is delicious and typical fruit you can eat in various ways. Let’s know it better!


The chestnuts were introduced into Italy from Asia Minor. Then the Romans planted chestnut trees across Europe while on their various campaigns. In 1802 an Italian agronomist said that “the fruit of the chestnut tree is practically the sole subsistence of whole populations for half the year, as a temporary but complete substitution for cereals”.


Chestnuts have very little protein and fat (mostly unsaturated). Their calories coming chiefly from carbohydrates. Fresh chestnut fruits have about 180 calories (800 kJ) per 100 grams of edible parts, which is much lower than walnuts, almonds, other nuts and dried fruit (about 600 kcal/100 g). Chestnuts contain NO GLUTEN.

How to eat them?

There are many ways to eat the chestnuts. The fruit can be peeled and eaten even raw! Another way of eating the chestnuts is roasting.First, you make a small incision in the chestnuts skin. It is VERY IMPORTANT to prevent the explosion of the fruit due to its expansion. Once cooked, its texture is slightly similar to a baked potato, with a delicate and sweet flavour.

If you decide to cook them over an open fire, keep one without the incision. When that one explodes you know the others are done. Once cooked, peel off the tough shell and the papery thin skin underneath. Peel the nuts whilst hot (it’s impossible to peel a cold chestnut!) to ensure the complete removal of the inner brown furry skin, called the ‘tan’, which is bitter.

Chestnuts can be also dried and milled into flour. The flour can be light beige. It can be used to prepare bread, cakes and other dishes. In Liguria, the chestnuts flour is fried into doughnut-like fritters called frittelle or made into chestnuts cake called castagnaccio. This cake is a good solution for long storage of a nutritious food. Castagnaccio can stay fresh even two weeks!


The name “chestnut” is derived from an earlier English term “chestnut”, which descends from the Latin name chosen for the genus, Castanea.

When you buy or collect the chestnuts you should if they are good enough to be eaten. The colour of a peel has to be uniform and shiny. The fruits have to be hard and compact. If they are shrivelled, they are old. If they have small holes, they were attacked by parasitic! However, if they don’t have all these defects, they are delicious!


Buon appetito !

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