Christmas is approaching and chestnuts will once again start to be added to people’s shopping lists. However, recent stats from Merchant Gourmet have revealed that this humble little fruit is starting to get more attention not just year-on-year, but earlier on in the autumn season.
The brand has seen a 29% growth in its Whole Chestnut sales over past five years, and this year retailers have already noticed an uplift by one third in the past two months, compared to this time last year. Sales of its Chestnut Puree have also risen 17% since 2015.
This move to buying chestnuts earlier in the year is likely sparked by the growing trend for veganism, and chestnuts’ role as a delicious alternative to dairy products. Baking has surged in popularity following lockdown, and those who want to experiment with plant-based treats are increasingly turning to chestnuts (whether whole or pureed) to substitute for the usual butter and eggs.
The fact that people are purchasing chestnuts in the autumn – before the festive period has even begun – reflects an appetite to incorporate them into all sorts of dishes, not just nut roasts. This brilliant ingredient can be used in a variety of unexpected ways: substituting as ‘mashed potato’, creating a plant-based chestnut ‘butter’, adding to a pasta sauce or even to make vegan custard.
What’s more, as we all prioritise our health more than ever, chestnuts can provide some much-needed nutrients and boost the immune system. Consultant Dietitian to Merchant Gourmet Sian Porter says, “Chestnuts are surprisingly a good source of vitamin C and folate, which can help to look after your immune system and reduce tiredness and fatigue[i]. Chestnuts are also a good source of potassium, a key mineral for overall wellbeing[ii] .”
Merchant Gourmet’s Whole Chestnuts and Chestnut Puree have been pre-cooked, peeled and prepared for cooking, so all the hard work has been taken out to create tasty ingredients that are ready to use. The brand offers a range of recipes to inspire using chestnuts in innovative ways – please see below.
Chestnut Butter – the indulgent-tasting dairy alternative
Chestnut and Mushroom Gravy – taking the vegan Sunday roast to the next level
Chestnut Custard – the perfect accompaniment to a vegan crumble
Chestnut Doughnuts with Chestnut Brittle –a plant-based version of the trendiest baked good
Chocolate & Chestnut Freak Shake – for an indulgent weekend treat
Chestnut and Quinoa Energy Balls – a light way to power a workout, avoiding the heaviness of peanut butter