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What Is Chestnut Flour?

Chestnut flour is a gluten-free product with a sweet flavor.
Chestnut flour is made from ground chestnuts.
Chestnut flour may be used to make pie crusts.
Some cooks prefer to use a blend of chestnut flour and traditional white flour in their baked goods.
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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 08 December 2014
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Chestnut flour is a grayish-tan alternative to regular all-purpose flour made from ground chestnuts. Its sweet flavor makes it a favorite ingredient for recipes involving almonds, chocolate, honey, and hazelnuts. A gluten-free product, this flour is a cooking option for people with celiac disease or other gluten intolerances or allergies.

Since chestnuts do not contain the fat content regular nuts have, and are instead largely composed of carbohydrates, they have many of the same properties as flour. Known as the grain that grows on trees, chestnuts have been dried and made into mellow, sweet flavored flour in Italy for centuries. In Tuscany, where it is known as Farina di Castagne, chestnut flour is considered a staple food, and it is commonly called for in recipes.

Low in fat and calories, flour made from chestnuts is considered a healthier alternative to almond flour and white flour. It also generally contains less carbohydrates than white flour, making it an option for people striving to consume less of the nutrient. It is still, however, considered a high glycemic index food. The flour does not contain a significant amount of other nutrients.

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Uses of the flour are endless. Chestnut flour bread, pie crust, crepes, and other baked foods can be made with the ingredient. Pasta made with this flour is a popular dinner meal, particularly when combined with pine nut sauce. Chestnut cake, a Corsican recipe, also calls for the flour. The cake is available in many Corsican restaurants as a typical dessert.

In France, flour made from chestnuts is often used to craft sweet crepes and Madeleines. Other popular recipes for the flour include castagnaccio, a rich type of cake, and fritters. Since chestnut flour contains no gluten, it can be a challenge to cook with. Many chefs add gluten-containing flour to chestnut flour when cooking cakes, breads, and other baked goods. When this method is used, twenty to fifty percent of the mixture should ideally be chestnut.

Some people prefer to grind the sweet flour with a stone mill. This is to preserve the flour's natural flavoring and texture, as there is some concern with heat damage during processing in knife mills. People with mill access can grow chestnuts and produce their own flour.

People with tree nut allergies should take care to avoid chestnut flour. It may cause an allergic reaction. Flour made from chestnuts is typically more difficult to locate in many areas as well as more expensive than white flour.

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anon359892
Post 14

Can someone tell me please, is chestnut flour the same thing as water chestnut flour which is sold in Asian stores? What about chestnut starch? I know that "chestnut flour" is normally associated with Italian fare and "water chestnut" with Asian, but are they the same thing?

ambradambra
Post 13

I just discovered a simple recipe for chestnut crepes by Mario Batali. It's at the bottom of my recent chestnut memoir post on my blog.

anon333501
Post 12

@Letshearit: I think you are confusing fibre with gluten. There is plenty of fibre in gluten-free products, like vegetables (and you do not have to use a ton), fruit and especially prunes. Also, gluten free alternatives like buckwheat, spelt and quinoa contain a lot of fibre if you use a wholegrain version.

Potatoes are full of starch and fibre. A very good and easy alternative is adding soaked (in water) or freshly ground linseed (also known as flaxseed) to your food, like muesli, porridge, yogurt, salads and pretty much everything else. Flaxseed should preferably be eaten raw and has to be either soaked in water overnight, so it gets "slimy" or freshly cracked, so the intestine can absorb its nutrients. Don't buy the ready made "LSA" mix as the nutrients fade the longer the seed is cracked. I hope this helps.

wander
Post 10

One of the things I was thrilled to learn as that even if you are going gluten free, whether by choice or because of celiac disease, is that you can still have bread.

I am a bit of a bread addict and discovered that chestnut flour works amazingly well in making a tasty loaf.

I never used to cook prior to going gluten free but after the change I found that it was easiest just to prepare everything at home. Baking your own bread can be very rewarding and I must say, it tastes better than anything you can buy made at the store.

letshearit
Post 9

I wonder how difficult it is for people on gluten free diets to get all the fiber they need. I know vegetables have some, but I would imagine you would have to eat a ton of them to get by.

With a replacement like chestnut flour you can recreate almost anything you could make with flour, such as delicious bread, but you don't get any of the fiber content.

Does anyone know if there is a gluten-free fiber additive you can add to something like a cake made with chestnut flour?

My close friend has had to go gluten free recently and any ideas would be helpful.

tigers88
Post 8

I used to date a girl that avoided eating a lot of gluten and she regularly used chestnut flour as an alternative. I couldn't believe how versatile and tasty it could be. I could always notice the difference but I never minded it. In some cases I even preferred it.

whiteplane
Post 7

@OeKc05-I do something similar with pork loin to make a kind of pork tenderloin. The chestnut flower give the pork and amazing flavor. The sweetness of the flour complement the natural sweetness of the meat. It is really unlike any pork tenderloin I've ever had. After only one dinner it became a family favorite.

live2shop
Post 6

My friend makes cookies with chestnut flour. She gave one to me and after I said that they were really good, she told me they were made from chestnut flour. Actually, she makes the dough from half wheat flour and half chestnut flour. The chestnut flour is fairly expensive.

Some things I learned about chestnut flour - It is high in carbohydrates - it is gluten-free, which is great for those who are gluten sensitive, and it goes stale if not used quickly, which can be inconvenient.

I really liked the cookies, so I think I'll make them once in a while.

OeKc05
Post 5

I love using chestnut flour to make breading for my fried chicken. It gives the chicken just a hint of sweetness and nuttiness. People who have tasted my chestnut-breaded chicken say they have never had anything like it. I tell them it is really simple to make.

Using the same process I had for breading chicken with regular flour, I first dip the raw chicken in a mixture of one egg and a splash of milk. I like to put the egg and milk in a wide-mouthed bowl and whisk them together. Next to the bowl, I have a sheet of wax paper dusted generously with half chestnut flour, half self-rising flour, salt, and pepper. I roll the wet chicken in the dry mixture.

In a skillet, I have peanut oil already heating up. I place the chicken in it and fry until brown.

shell4life
Post 4

I read that after the nut’s oils have been pressed out, the flour is ground from the remaining cake-like substance. It’s hard for me to imagine a nut as cake-like, but then again, I’ve never seen one drained of its oils.

I also read that nut flours go stale rather quickly, and it is best to keep them stored in the refrigerator or even the freezer. Because of this, they need to be used up quickly.

cloudel
Post 3

Chestnut flour works great for making pancakes. You can use the same batter to make both pancakes and crepes.

I like to use half self-rising flour and half chestnut flour. The lack of gluten in the chestnut flour makes the pancakes very light. These pancakes have a wonderful nutty flavor that makes them unique in the world of pancakes.

I like to serve them stacked with vanilla yogurt and blueberry syrup in between the pancakes. If the mood strikes me, I will switch out the blueberry syrup for strawberry. Maple syrup also tastes great for this, but if I use maple I leave out the yogurt, because the flavors just don’t mix, in my opinion.

frosted
Post 2

My family loves crepes so if I can locate this flour and some good chestnut flour recipes for crepes I will be testing it on my family.

I normally grind my own whole grain flour so I would also be interested in learning how to make chestnut flour if it turns out that my family likes it. I am wondering if you have to have a stone mill to make the flour.

MrsRogers
Post 1

As stated, chestnut flour is high in carbohydrates. Unfortunately, unlike whole wheat flour, chestnut flour contains very little fiber. This means the net carb count is too high for a low carb diet: It has 21 grams of carbs per 1/4 cup, which is one serving, and 0 grams of fiber. In fact, weighing in at only one gram of protein per serving, it doesn't even pack much of a punch when it comes to protein.

The sweet flavor of chestnut flour described in the article comes from the 3 grams of sugar per serving. It seems this little recipe gem is great for flavor, but not nutrition. The good news is that it has only about 25 calories per serving.

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