Home' Grower : April 2013 Contents The South Australian Grower -- April 2013
Try this new chestnut!
and flour are available from
specialty food stores.
"The chestnut har vest this year is
looking like it will be another good
crop, even though some growing
areas have had dry conditions,"
says Jane Casey, spokesperson for
the Australian chestnut industr y.
"The benefit of this is that this
year the flavour of chestnuts will be
more intense and sweeter.
"Make the most of fresh
chestnuts when they're in season
and use chestnut puree and frozen
peeled chestnuts at other times of
"Choose firm shiny, fresh nuts
and once home, treat them like
vegetables and store them in the
Chestnuts are an excellent source
of vitamin C, folate, and minerals
such as calcium, magnesium, zinc,
iron and potassium. Chestnut flour
and meal are gluten free and
suitable for those with intolerance
and coeliac disease.
DESPITE being grown in
Australia for more than
150 years, Australians are
still confused by how to prepare
A third of the population has
never tasted them.
"Many Australians aren't familiar
with chestnuts, despite the fact that
we produce 1500 tonnes of them
each year here in our own
country," says chef Stefano
Manfredi who works at Osteria
Balla Manfredi in Sydney and the
Manfredi at Bells restaurant at
"I grew up eating chestnuts, and
despite what some people think,
they're incredibly versatile and
simple to prepare."
Chestnuts are part of Mr
Manfredi's Italian heritage. He
remembers eating them as a child
in Italy and often includes them on
the menus in his restaurants.
Mr Manfredi has created three
new simple recipes to reveal the
versatility of this magnificent
ingredient to Australian home
"The simplest way to eat
chestnuts is as a delicious snack,"
"Just make a small incision on
the flat side of the chestnut to
prevent bursting. Roast in the
oven, on the barbeque or under a
grill, and then peel while still
Chestnuts are cholesterol-free
and relatively low in calories
compared to many other nuts and
For example, roasted chestnuts
have half the calories of roasted
cashews. They also have a low
glycemic index, which means the
body digests them slowly, keeping
you satiated for longer.
It is traditionally considered a
The Australian season begins in
March. Early-season chestnuts are
suitable for warmer-weather
Mr Manfredi has developed two
of his new recipes with a warmer
climate in mind so people can
enjoy chestnuts in early autumn.
Although chestnuts are typically
eaten in savoury dishes, he
suggests getting creative with this
"Chestnuts are a fantastic all-
round ingredient. They are
delicious sliced into salads or
boiled as an alternative to pasta or
potatoes," he said.
"You can even puree boiled or
roasted chestnuts to stir into soups
to add thickness. Chestnut puree
also lends itself beautifully to
desserts like tiramisu, tortes and
"The texture of a cooked
chestnut is like that of a baked
potato -- soft and crumbly. The
taste is unique and nutty but
subtle, which is why they work so
well for both sweet and savoury
He said chestnuts paired well
with fresh ricotta cheese and baked
pumpkin for a late summer, early
"Boil scored whole chestnuts in
water for five minutes and peel
while still warm. Stack cubes of
oven-roasted pumpkin on a plate,
spoon ricotta around and scatter
sliced boiled chestnuts on top," he
"Garnish with sage leaves and a
sprinkling of sesame seeds and
you've got a wonderful, quick
Chestnuts are grown on trees in
areas such as North East Victoria,
the Dandenongs outside
Melbourne, Batlow and The
Southern Tablelands in New South
Wales, in the Adelaide Hills, and
Manjimup in Western Australia.
They are har vested in autumn,
and the season runs from March to
July. During this time, chestnuts
are readily available from
supermarkets and independent
grocers in the fresh produce
section. Other Australian chestnut
products such as frozen peeled
chestnuts, chestnut puree, meal,
Chestnuts are still a novelty to many, despite Australia producing 1500
tonnes of them each year. Photo: Chestnuts Australia Inc.
Delayed hemp decision 'passing buck'
IN December, Food Standards Australia
New Zealand announced that Council of
Australian Governments Ministers sought
a review on the proposed standard for
low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) hemp as
food, and agreed to seek advice from the
Standing Council on Police and
The delay was a major disappointment
to the Australian hemp sector, which
sees big potential for a local hemp seed
products industry that could replace
imports and follow Canada's move to
certified organic production.
In 2010, Canada's hemp product
exports were valued at more than $10
million, with most going to the United
States. The application to approve the
use of low THC hemp as food was
approved by Food Standards in
November 2012, following a process
that started in December 2011.
Food Standards stated that hemp was
cultivated in Australia and New Zealand
under strict licensing arrangements.
"FSANZ is satisfied that low THC hemp
foods are safe for consumption when
they contain no more than the specified
maximum levels of THC," it said.
"FSANZ has also recognised that
foods derived from hemp seeds may
provide a useful alternative dietary
source of many nutrients and
polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly
omega-3 fatty acids."
Lyn Stephenson of the not-for-profit
Industrial Hemp Association of Victoria
said the decision was "buck passing"
and perpetuating a myth that hemp
was bad for people.
"In the US you can eat it but not grow
it, while in Australia you can grow it but
not eat it," she said.
"Farmers want to grow it and we
have cold pressing facilities in
Australian Certified Organic-certified
supplier Paul Benhaim, Hemp Foods
Australia, New South Wales is not
surprised to see the decision delayed.
"We just have to follow the steps in
the process but I did expect a result,"
Mr Benhaim is building a modern
1000-square metre hemp foods
production plant at Bangalow, northern
NSW. Northern Rivers Hemp Association
secretary and hemp farmer Klara
Marosszeky said the industry was
disappointed that hemp was not
approved, and had isolated the issue as
one for the police, while nutritional
information and safety had been
A major environmental advantage of
hemp seed is that it is an omega-3,
plant-based alternative to unsustainable
factory farming of Arctic and Antarctic
krill for omega-3 oils while global
omega-3 fisheries are at near capacity.
In 2010, US chain Whole Foods
Market banned krill oil omega-3
supplements because of sustainability
"Chestnuts are not native to
Australia and the first trees were
thought to have been introduced
with the influx of migrants during
the Gold Rush of the 1850s," Ms
"Many Australians have fond
memories of buying chestnuts hot
and fresh in Europe or Asia where
street vendors roast chestnuts over
open fires, but when they come
home they are unsure how to
include them in their own
"We want to show Australians
how to prepare and enjoy this
wonderful local ingredient."
In the US you can eat it but not grow it, while in
Australia you can grow it but not eat it
-- LYN STEPHENSON
Simple to prepare
Harvested in autumn
Sweeter this year
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