In the chill of December, there’s one warming treat that is especially popular across the world to keep the cold away. Roasted chestnuts are often seen this time of year being cooked by street vendors, and the earthy, spicy scent is more than enough to get anyone into the Christmas spirit.
On the 14th of December, it’s time to honor the humble chestnut. Or specifically, mark the time-honored tradition of roasting chestnuts round about the season of good cheer.
The History of Roast Chestnuts Day
Roast Chestnuts day is a relatively new day in the calendar, but the practice of roasting chestnuts has been around for donkey’s years. Although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when they started to become so popular, historians pencil the 16th century in as being a turning point, when the nuts would be sold by street vendors to anyone wanting a quick and warming snack. It has also long been a tradition in Portugal to eat them roasted on Saint Martin’s Day, and in Tuscany on Saint Simon’s Day.
When chestnuts are carefully roasted, the natural sweetness of the nut is revealed. This makes them an ideal snack if you want something to stave off a sweet tooth that also happens to be quite nutritious, chestnuts being comparatively low in calories and being a good source of fibre. They are also very rich in vitamin C, which may come as a surprise to you. Although they are technically nuts, they taste very unlike other nuts – the sweet, earthy taste is certainly worth a try if you’ve never had one before – and Roast Chestnuts Day is the perfect time to try that first one.
Chestnuts are often roasted on a grill, which helps to remove their bitter, shiny skins, but you can make them at home using your conventional kitchen oven. All you need to do is cut a cross into each nut, put them on a roasting tin and bake them until the skins open. They are eaten after peeling away that tough, shiny skin.
How to Celebrate Roast Chestnuts Day
It’s so, so easy to make roast chestnuts, so why not roast up a batch for yourself on the 14th December? Have them as a snack on their own, add them to stuffing or pair them with roasted beef.
And you’ll be able to find them in most supermarkets during the festive season, so you won’t have to go foraging for them in the woods!