The Nuttiest Winter Pastime

Chestnut RecipeIt’s that time of the season where the roads and paths are littered with browned leaves and twigs, the sky is largely grey and there’s a new, chilly wind which bites at your fingers – Autumn has arrived.

But before you sulk and mourn for summer, take a harder look at the ground next time you walk through a rural area and notice the treasures the season has brought for us. I speak of course of those spiky green balls which will soon plummet to the ground from the tree tops, our old friend the chestnut.

Chestnuts ripen around October – November and can be enjoyed raw, roasted and used as ingredients in various delicious dishes.

If ever you should fancy a little natural nibble whilst walking in the wilderness, ensure that the chestnut is good, firm and healthy looking before peeling back the brown skin, revealing creamy greenish flesh. Raw chestnut flesh has the texture of a carrot and tastes a little bit like a nutty pea with a slightly smokey aftertaste.

If you’re looking for a more traditional and less Bear Grylls approach to enjoying our favourite wild nut, then collecting a pocketful ready to roast at home is a classical option. Roasting chestnuts around an open fire has been a winter past time going back centuries. So whether you just want a tasty treat or fancy reminiscing your time with the scouts, here’s how to roast a chestnut, the sensible, indoor way.

  1. Preheat your oven to 400ºF (205ºC).
  2. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut an ‘x’ into the nuts to allow steam to escape.
  3. Spread the nuts across a rimmed baking sheet with their cut side up, and slide directly into the oven.
  4. Now you have fifteen to twenty minutes to wait. Make a cuppa or pour some scotch and ready a hot towel and a large bowl. Ensure that the nuts don’t burn by moving them frequently.
  5. After 20 minutes, wrap the chestnuts in a hot towel and squeeze them in order to loosen the skins. Leave wrapped in towel for five minutes.
  6. Now, take a chestnut and peel the skin while the nut is still warm.
  7. Take a bite and enjoy the warm, nutty goodness.

Best of all, unlike other nuts, chestnuts are low in saturated fat, so that’s at least one guilt-free winter indulgence.

KathrynKathryn works on the marketing team and spends most of her time making our website read better.

She has a degree in English & Creative Writing and loves classic cars, 1970s music and ginger beer.

She writes our fictional stories and seasonal posts.

See all of Kathryn’s posts.

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The End-of-Summer Crumble

A basket of apples at Primrose

Who could say no to these apples?

By the chill of the wind, it seems like summer’s now gone for good. Just as it started to fade, I decided to do a bit of cooking and whip up a pudding celebrating the transition: Apple and Peach Crumble.

I took home some of the apples that had been brought in to the Primrose office and I had a punnet of peaches I hadn’t yet eaten. I wanted a simple way to make use of this fruit – I’m not much of a cook, so it had to be something I couldn’t screw up – so baking a crumble was an easy choice.

I based my recipe off this one from the BBC, tweaking it to my tastes – adding far more than “1 pinch” of cinnamon, and a little bit of vanilla as well.

My fruits before adding the topping. I put only apples in one half of the pan, and both fruits in the other half.

My fruits before adding the topping. I put only apples in one half of the pan, and both fruits in the other half.

I took the peaches and added in about half of my apple chunks, tossed them together, and put them in one half of the pan. The rest of the pan was just apple without peach – my Other Half is notoriously picky, and I didn’t want him to miss out on crumbly goodness if he wouldn’t eat peaches.

Then I sprinkled on my topping, with another generous shake of cinnamon, and into the oven it went! I kept the pan in the oven for longer than the recipe called for, to ensure my crumble was perfectly crispy and crumbly.

I didn’t have any custard on hand, but I did have some vanilla ice cream. Crumble à la mode – magnifique!

Apple and Peach crumble with ice cream

My finished crumble, topped off with a scoop of ice cream. Yummy!

And how was it?

Simply scrumptious. I would recommend this dish to anybody with some fruits to use up – I hear this has been a very good season for big apple harvests, and blackberries too. My mouth waters at the thought of experimenting with plums, gooseberries, rhubarb, pears…

Have you gotten to taste the results of your autumn harvest yet?

Joy PrimroseJoycelyn is a member of the Primrose marketing team.

She is a novice windowsill gardener but hopes to graduate to larger plants one day. She enjoys British food (despite its sometimes bad reputation) and British scenery.

At Primrose, when not tending to office plants, she deals with online advertising and social media.

See all of Joycelyn’s posts.