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Chestnut fruit covered by spikes last August. In spanish they are called erizos de castañas. The sweet chestnuts are inside protected by the spiky sheath that deters predators from the seed. The brownish nuts that are shed during October. The raw nuts, with their pithy skin around the seed, are somewhat astringent. That skin can be relatively easily removed by quickly blanching the nuts after having made a cross slit at the tufted end. Once cooked, they are delicious and, when roasted, acquire a sweet flavour and a floury texture not unlike sweet potato. The cooked nuts can be used in confections, puddings, desserts and cakes, or eaten roasted. They are used for flour, bread making, a cereal substitute, coffee substitute, a thickener in soups and other cookery uses, as well as for fattening stock.
Oaks and chestnuts forests
In Spain it was a main food supplier until the arrival of maiz and potatoes from America. By November 1st. it is celebrated in some parts of Spain the "Magostos", dedicated to roast and eat the roasted chestnuts http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castanyada