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Food glossary

Chestnuts

Chestnuts

Chestnuts have a sweet crumbly flesh and, unlike other nuts, are low in fat. Roast chestnuts are a traditional winter treat and can be cooked on an open fire, in the oven or in a frying pan. Available from mid October to December.

Uses: They are used in sweet and savoury recipes such as stuffings, sweets and desserts.

To store: Chestnuts contain 50 per cent water and should be kept in the fridge to prevent them from drying out.

To prepare: Cut a small slit in the skin. Roast in a preheated oven for 10 minutes at 200°C, gas mark 6, or drop into boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes, then peel. Work in small batches because the chestnuts can only be peeled when hot.

Candied

Also known as marron glacé, preserved candied chestnuts are a deliciously sweet treat.

Uses: In puddings and ice creams or sliced as a decorative garnish.

To store: Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

Chestnut purée

A dark brown, grainy purée that is a convenient form of chestnuts sold in cans.

Uses: In stuffings for turkey and chicken, add to savoury sauces to thicken and add texture, stir into soups or mix with mashed potato or celeriac for an unusual accompanying vegetable. Chestnut purée can also be mixed with whipped cream and used as a filling for meringues and cakes.

To store: Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 2 years. Once opened store in the fridge and use within 4 days.

Sweetened chestnut purée

Chestnut purée or crème de marron is a grainy, dark brown sweetened purée with a distinctly nutty taste, it is available canned and goes especially well with chocolate.

Uses: In desserts and ice creams, especially those with nuts or chocolate, it can also be used as a filling for cakes and meringues or served with ice cream.

To store: Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 2 years. Once opened store in the fridge and use within 4 days.

Ready cooked

Cooked and peeled whole chestnuts and chestnut pieces are available vacuum packed - they can be used in recipes or simply eaten hot or cold as they are. They are available in cans or sealed in plastic in a cardboard box.

Uses: Add to salads, stuffings, pies and tarts or chop and add to cooked root vegetables to serve with roast turkey or chicken.

To store: Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. Once opened store in the fridge and use within 1 week.