Chestnut | Kestane
Chestnuts (kestane) have an ancient history. The sweet chestnut was introduced into Europe from the Sardis (located 70 kilometers from the Turkish city of Izmir). Sardis, Sart in Turkish, was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Lydia, ruled by King Croesus (560 – 546 BC). At the time, chestnut was even referred to as the ‘Sardian Nut.’ Chestnut has been a staple food in the mountainous regions of the Mediterranean for millennia, where it largely replaced grains and cereals. With little or no access to wheat flour, many communities relied on chestnuts and chestnut flour as the main source of carbohydrates. The earliest known record of chestnut cultivation can be found in Theophrastus’ Enquiry into Plants, written in the 3rd century BC. Today, Turkey is the third leading producer of sweet chestnuts in the world.
In Turkey, chestnut are eaten roasted and candied. Roasted chestnuts are prepared by first placing a small cut on the flat side of each and then placing them in simmering in water to soften. Afterward, the chestnuts are ready for roasting in the oven or on an open fire. Roasted chestnuts (kestane) are sold by street vendors throughout Turkey. Like roasted chestnuts, candied chestnuts (kestane şekeri) are first boiled to soften. After softening, the shells are removed and the exposed chestnut is placed into sweet syrup. The city of Bursa, located in the Marmara region, is famous for candied chestnuts.