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NOSTALGIC MEMORIES linger when chestnuts appear in each Fall. I still recall when I was in America on a holiday I saw street vendors selling roasted chestnuts on the sidewalks of New York and Philadelphia as well as in many smaller cities. For just a few pennies people could buy bags of hot chestnuts which they munched while shopping or strolling along the streets.

There's an old saying that the chestnut forests were so thick a squirrel could jump from chestnut tree to chestnut tree from Georgia to New York without ever touching the ground. A Chestnut is an impressive looking fruit about the size of a baseball with a fuzzy lining surrounding the nuts.

Most people don't think of nuts as a low-fat food, but chestnuts are the exception. Low in fat, three cooked chestnuts, or approximately one ounce, contain a mere .02 grams of fat compared to a handful of cashews with about 12 to15 grams of fat.

Chestnuts contain only minimal amounts of protein. However, unlike other nuts , they are very starchy, making them high in carbohydrates. Chestnuts, when dried and ground, makes nutritious flour. Of all the nuts, chestnuts are the only ones that contain vitamin C. Because of their starchy content, cooked chestnuts can be served as a vegetable and mashed like potatoes. Shortly after they are harvested much of their starch turns to sugar, giving them a satisfying sweetness and adding a pleasant balance to a savoury meal. Chestnuts can be enjoyed whole as a tasty snack. They can also be mashed, pickled, chopped, minced, or sliced. Consider adding them to sauces or soups as a thickening agent and flavour enhancer.

In their dried form, chestnuts may be stored indefinitely. Dried chestnuts tend to retain their firmness even after cooking for long. Their firm texture makes them ideal for adding to cooked vegetables, casseroles, grain dishes, fruit and vegetable salads, rice puddings, and soups.

It's best to keep whole, unpeeled fresh chestnuts refrigerated until you're ready to cook them. In this form they may be stored for up to one year. One can find chestnuts in the supermarkets in the dried nut and powder form.

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