What are

Chinese water chestnuts or simply water chestnuts are the edible rhizomes of a herbaceous plant typical of Asia (China, Japan, India, the Philippines, etc.), Australia, tropical Africa, and some islands in the Ocean Pacific and others of the Indian.

How Are They Made?

Chinese water chestnuts are small and rounded in shape; the skin is shiny brown , while the pulp is white and has a crunchy consistency. Chinese water chestnuts can be eaten raw, lightly boiled, or grilled , and are sometimes preserved loose in brine or sealed in jars.

Nutritional Characteristics

Chinese water chestnuts are a food of plant origin that is suitable for vegan , vegetarian and most religious or philosophical diets.
Chinese water chestnuts belong neither to the group of cereals nor to that of tubers ; on the other hand, evaluating their chemical composition, they could fully fall into the third fundamental group of foods . They have an energy intake slightly higher than potatoes and significantly lower than that of traditional chestnuts.
Chinese water chestnuts are rich in carbohydrates , reaching levels of approximately 90% of dry weight . Carbohydrates are mainly made up of starch , which occupies 60%, while simple sugars reach 30%.
Chinese water chestnuts are a good source of dietary fiber (3g/100g of edible portion) and do not contain cholesterol .
Among the vitamins , the levels of riboflavin ( vit B2 – 0.2mg/100g of edible part) and pyridoxine ( vit B6 – 0.328mg/100g) stand out; as regards mineral salts , however, the concentrations of potassium (584mg/100g), copper and manganese (0.331mg/100g) are appreciated .
Chinese water chestnuts are suitable for any type of diet, as long as the portions are adapted to any pathologies such as: hyperglycemia , hypertriglyceridemia and overweight . They do not contain gluten or lactose and therefore can also be used by those suffering from related intolerances .
It is difficult to establish the recommended average portion, as they do not represent a typical Italian food; on the estimate of the nutritional content it is however possible to define that, if used as a snack , the average portion of Chinese water chestnuts can be between 100 and 200g.

How are they eaten?

Chinese water chestnuts are a very common ingredient in recipes of oriental origin. In China, they are mainly consumed raw, sometimes sweetened, and have a typically crunchy consistency.
Chinese water chestnuts can also be ground to produce a white flour , used to make traditional cakes that are part of “dim sum” cuisine.
Chinese water chestnuts are a plant food with a very particular consistency. In fact, having cell walls interconnected and strengthened by some phenolic compounds ( ferulic acid oligomers ), they remain crunchy even after cooking and/or storage in liquid. This characteristic is shared by other similar plants such as the tiger nut and the lotus root (understood as a water lily, not like the persimmon plant ).
Chinese water chestnuts have a very delicate flavor vaguely reminiscent of hazelnut ; they should not be seasoned excessively or with tasty ingredients, which would hide their aromas. A typical Chinese
water chestnut dish made from bamboo shoots , coriander seeds , ginger , sesame oil and peas .

Disambiguation and Botany

Contrary to what their name suggests, Chinese water chestnuts are not fruits or seeds, but rather the globular roots of a marsh plant that sinks its underwater rhizomes into the mud . The plant has a shape similar to that of rushes and reaches a height of 1.5 metres.
Chinese water chestnuts belong to the Cyperaceae family, genus Eleocharis and species dulcis ; the binomial nomenclature of water chestnuts is Eleocharis dulcis .
The root of Chinese water chestnuts is often confused with the fruits of the Trapa genus (Family Trapaceae). Of the latter, the Italian species natans is characterized by a typical and totally different shape; some of its leaves are floating and have an expanded blade, while others submerged appear to have a linear pinnate shape. While the rhizomes of the Eleocharis genus have a shape and color very similar to chestnuts, those of the Trapa genus are characteristic and (despite the attempts of traders) difficult to misinterpret; obviously, to distinguish them from others it is necessary to know the shape of “real” water chestnuts. The fruits of the Trapa genus are known throughout the world by the Anglo-Saxon name of water caltrop .