Chestnut flour is a nutritious and gluten-free food that can have different uses in the kitchen. Find out what it is good for and how to use it.
Chestnut flour is an interesting food product obtained from the drying and grinding processes of chestnuts. Boasting excellent culinary potential, it is used for various recipes, both sweet and savory.
Being a gluten-free flour with a pleasant and basically sweet taste, it lends itself well to being used in various contexts, both sweet and savory. In the following paragraphs, the nutritional and organoleptic characteristics of chestnut flour will be described, as well as the relative methods of use in the kitchen and its realization at home starting from chestnuts as they are.
Chestnut flour: calories and nutritional values
Entering into the merits of the specific characteristics, we see below the nutritional values and calories of chestnut flour. First of all, let’s consider the energy contribution of this food, which does not differ much from traditional flours. 100 grams of chestnut flour, in fact, provide about 348 Kcal, a value equal to that of type 00 flour and very similar to wholemeal flour (which provides 340 kcal).
As for the composition in macronutrients, 100 grams of chestnut flour mainly contain carbohydrates, equal to about 70% of its weight, 6g of proteins and 4g of fats (mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids); Approximately 10g are instead represented by water; in addition, chestnut flour has a good content of vegetable fiber (about 10 g).
Chestnut flour provides, among other things, mineral salts and other micronutrients, such as magnesium, potassium and phosphorus, but also calcium, iron and some B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin). Being a vegetable food, chestnut flour is absolutely free of cholesterol.
In relation to the relevant carbohydrate content, it is important to define the glycemic index of this food. Specifically, this value corresponds, for chestnut flour, to 65, classifying itself as a medium-high glycemic index.
Although some parameters can vary from chestnuts as such to flour, the latter boasts the content of some polyphenolic compounds, known for their antioxidant power and the consequent beneficial effects on human health.
Nutritional values per 100g of chestnut flour:
- Kcal: 348
- Proteins: 6.1 g
- Lipids: 3.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 71.6 g
- Fiber: 10.9 g
- Iron: 3.2 mg
- Soccer: 50 mg
- Potassium: 847 mg
- Magnesium: 62 mg
- Zinc: 0.9 mg
- Phosphorus: 164 mg
- Vitamin B1: 0.23 mg
- Vitamin B2: 0.37 mg
- Vitamin B3: 1 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.64 mg
- Folate: 215 µg
- Biotin: 2.6 µg
- Glycemic index: 65
- Cholesterol: 0
Chestnut flour: the health benefits
The composition in macronutrients and micronutrients, as well as the content of biologically active compounds, ensures that each food possesses properties of a certain type. So what are the properties of chestnut flour? Let’s see below its main virtues:
- Useful for the good functioning of the intestine: in relation to the good fiber content, chestnut flour is useful for intestinal well-being, acting on the motility and health of the bacterial flora, thanks to the prebiotic effect it performs;
- Cholesterol control: the supply of vegetable fiber, of which chestnut flour is rich, is indicated for the control of blood cholesterol as the fiber reduces its absorption;
- Cardiovascular health: chestnuts, as well as its flour, contain antioxidants (in particular gallic acid and ellagic acid ) that have been shown to be useful in protecting the heart from oxidative stress, a condition that can increase the risk of stroke and heart disease;
- Energy: thanks to its composition in macronutrients, vitamins and mineral salts, chestnut flour is indicated for the nutrition of sports subjects, as well as in the context of stressful lifestyles or in case of exhaustion;
- Suitable for celiacs: being naturally gluten-free, chestnut flour is also suitable for the diet of people with celiac disease or with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Because of this characteristic, this product is effectively used for the production of commercial alternatives to products containing gluten.
What does chestnut flour taste like?
As for the flavor of chestnut flour, it is quite peculiar, revealing itself to be decidedly sweetish. In this regard, chestnut flour is also called “sweet flour”. As a consequence of the drying method usually used for chestnuts, the resulting flour has a characteristic “smoke smell”. In short, the taste of chestnut flour is sweet and slightly smoky.
How chestnut flour is used
Any type of flour constitutes a basic ingredient to obtain different preparations. So how can chestnut flour be used? As mentioned above, this type of flour lends itself effectively to the preparation of sweet or savory recipes.
The ability to retain the moisture of some ingredients makes chestnut flour suitable for making soft cakes, muffins and donuts. Very well known in the areas of central and northern Italy, the ” castagnaccio ” is a typical recipe based on chestnut flour, raisins and pine nuts.
As for savory recipes, chestnut flour is used for the preparation, by way of example, of gnocchi and fresh homemade pasta, as well as products such as bread and rolls with warm and autumn tones. If you want other ideas in the kitchen, we have explored the use of chestnuts and its flour in this article: 10 ideas for using chestnuts in the kitchen.
The absence of gluten makes chestnut flour not very suitable for leavened products, although a good result can be obtained, in this sense, by combining chestnut flour with wheat flour.
How much chestnut flour to use
Chestnut flour can be used in partial replacement of the flour provided in a recipe, in the same proportions. The quantity to be used must not exceed compared to wheat flour, occupying, to give an idea, up to a third of the total quantity of flour. In practice, up to 30 grams of chestnut flour can be used on 100 grams of total flour.
For more ideas on how to use alternative flours to the classic 00 flour, we invite you to read our in-depth analysis: How to replace 00 flour in the kitchen with 12 alternatives with and without gluten.
How to make chestnut flour at home?
Although chestnut flour is commercially available (a topic to which the last paragraph will be dedicated), someone may want to try their hand at preparing it in a home environment. In this regard, the procedure for making chestnut flour at home is quite simple and intuitive.
- First of all it is necessary to obtain chestnuts of excellent quality, discarding those visibly damaged;
- Therefore, it is necessary to cut the chestnuts on the concave side and bake them in the oven at 150 ° C for an hour or so. At the end of cooking in the oven, the chestnuts will be completely dry;
- At this point, it is necessary to let them cool and keep them at rest for a few hours; therefore, it is necessary to remove the outer wrapping and the cuticles.
- Finally, you can proceed to the realization of the flour, blending the chestnuts carefully. During this phase, it is important, from time to time, to place a few chestnuts in a large blender, and to work everything meticulously, until a soft and fine powder is obtained.
At the end of the preparation, it is advisable to distribute the chestnut flour inside food containers.
How to store chestnut flour?
As with other types of flour, obviously subject to alteration and contamination, chestnut flour also requires simple storage rules. In fact, it may happen that the flour does not have to be used immediately, whether it is a flour packaged or prepared at home starting from chestnuts as they are. How to behave, then?
The storage methods may vary depending on the expected times for the next use. First of all, it is a good idea to use a good container with an airtight seal, preferably glass, so that the flour does not come into contact with the sources of humidity placed in the surrounding environment.
For shorter storage times, it is sufficient to store the containers in a cool and dry place; alternatively, it can be stored in the refrigerator. In anticipation of longer storage times, freezing can be used in the freezer and, in this case, it is preferable to arrange the flour in transparent plastic bags. For a storage period of up to 12 months, and depending on the possibilities, you can proceed to vacuum storage.
Can anyone with diabetes consume chestnut flour?
In correspondence with the paragraph on the nutritional characteristics of chestnut flour, reference was made to the relative glycemic index value. In simple terms, this parameter indicates the speed with which foods and, in particular, the carbohydrates contained in them, increase blood sugar, or blood sugar values. In the context of diabetic pathology, the glycemic index has a certain importance, proving to be decisive in the choice of foods.
Specifically, foods with a low glycemic index are more suitable in case of diabetes, although this parameter must be completed, for a better evaluation, by the quantities actually consumed of the foods in question (in this case, we speak of glycemic load).
As we have seen above, the glycemic index of chestnut flour is equal to 65, placing itself between the medium-high values. For this reason, this flour is, on the whole, not very suitable for feeding the diabetic patient. However, the right precautions allow for exceptions to be made. As an example, a small portion of fresh pasta made with this flour, seasoned with sage, cinnamon and a drizzle of raw extra virgin olive oil, as well as accompanied by a portion of vegetables, can be occasionally eaten. Regarding specific quantities, they must be such as to return a manageable glycemic load and, in any case, established on the basis of a specific assessment for each subject.
Does chestnut flour contain nickel?
Sensitivity to nickel is a very well known and widespread problem, which sometimes requires a targeted nutritional approach. The nutritionist, in certain specific cases, can recommend a nickel-free diet. In this context, it will be useful to exclude certain foods, consuming only those that do not contain the metal. Chestnuts are among the nickel-free foods, as well as the flour that is obtained from them. Ultimately, chestnut flour does not contain nickel and can be included in the diet of subjects sensitive to nickel.
Contraindications of chestnut flour
In the previous paragraphs, the consumption of this food was considered in relation to some specific conditions (celiac disease, sensitivity to nickel, diabetes). At this point, it may be useful to add some more details on the possible contraindications of chestnut flour.
Although it is a completely subjective question, excessive consumption of this food can sometimes be associated with annoying intestinal symptoms, such as abdominal swelling or tension, abdominal cramps, etc. It is therefore advisable to evaluate one’s individual tolerability, if particularly subject to problems of this type or suffering from pathologies affecting the gastrointestinal system. If in doubt, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a health professional expert in nutrition. As for the interactions with pharmacological or phytotherapeutic substances, they are not known to date.
Does chestnut flour make you fat? Does your belly swell?
As with many other foods, one might wonder if the consumption of chestnut flour can have repercussions on body weight. In general, the effect of each food on weight depends on how it is included in the diet. Basically, no food can be defined as “fattening” if correctly framed within a diet calibrated to individual energy and nutritional needs.
So, does chestnut flour make you fat? The answer varies depending on the context. If included in a normal calorie and balanced diet, combined with an active lifestyle, chestnut flour will not make you fat.
As for the possible abdominal swelling resulting from the consumption of chestnut flour, this is a transitory problem and not related to the caloric intake of the food. The issue was mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Chestnut flour: prices and where to buy it
Once the various characteristics of chestnut flour have been described, it is time to move on to some practical and commercial aspects. Where to buy chestnut flour? In general, it is available in the most well-stocked supermarkets, as well as in the “bio” shops now available throughout the territory. If it is not possible to reach any points of sale in the area, it is also possible to find chestnut flour on the internet, through the numerous online shopping channels. Although chestnut flour is easily purchased in the manner indicated, it is also possible to find it on sale at herbalists and pharmacies equipped with a food department.
As for prices, they can vary significantly between one manufacturer and another. In general, chestnut flour tends to be more expensive than other commercially available flours: on average, a half-kilo package costs 9/10 USD.