Water Chestnut


The water chestnut is often confused with the water caltrop, but the two plants are unrelated. It's not actually a nut but a grass-like, aquatic plant. The part that is used for food is the tuber, or the bulb, of the plant.

The water chestnut is popular in Chinese stir-fried dishes. It is also made into a starch commonly known as caltrop starch which is used (with other ingredients such as tang flour, a fine wheat starch) to make dumpling skins.


Other names: Chinese Water Chestnut, Water Caltrop
Translations: Ūdens Chestnut, Vandens Kaštonų, De apă de castane, Voda Kesten, Nước Chestnut, Chestnut wody, सिंघाड़ा, Água castanha, Вода Честнат, Νερό Καστανιά, المياه الكستناء, 물 밤나무, Vodní kaštan, Air Chestnut, Apulid, 菱角, Aigua Castaño, Voda Chestnut, Vodné gaštan, Castagna d'acqua, המים ערמונים, Vatten Chestnut, Воде Кестен, 菱, Châtaigne d'eau, Wasserkastanien, Vand Chestnut, Vann Chestnut, Agua Castaño, Вода Честнат, Vesi Kastanja, Вода кестен

Physical Description

The flesh of a water chestnut is white and crisp, with a bland, vaguely sweet nutty flavor. It is unique from other vegetables because it stays crisp even after cooking. Water chestnuts are small in size, and may be eaten raw (as it is in many Chinese dishes), or boiled, grilled or pickled.

Colors: white

Tasting Notes

Flavors: slighty sweet, nutty
Mouthfeel: Crisp, Crunchy
Food complements: Rice, Pasta, Bamboo shoots, Snow peas
Wine complements: White alsatian, White sancerre, Rosé côtes-du-rhône
Substitutes: Jicama, Apple slices when cooked with pork dish

Selecting and Buying

Choosing: Look for firm ones with an unwrinkled skin and no soft spots - otherwise when you peel the water chestnut you may find it has softened and turned mushy. Generally, it's best to buy a few more chestnuts than needed, just in case a few have spoiled.
Buying: Fresh water chestnuts are generally available in Asian markets year-round. You can also find canned water chestnuts at almost any grocery store.
Procuring: The water chestnut is native to China. Today, it is grown in southern China, India, Thailand, Vietnam and parts of the Philippines.

Water chestnuts have a long growing season, approximately 7 months, without frost, so they can only be grown in semi-tropical places.

Preparation and Use

They can be eaten raw or added raw and sliced to salads and clear soups. In Asia they are made into a drink by either blending raw chestnuts in water or boiling them or their skins in water for 15 to 30mins and adding a little extra palm sugar to enhance the flavour. The drink tastes like water that has have sweet corn boiled in it and it is reputed to have cooling properties, popular on hot days in Asian cities.

Water chestnuts are frequently added to stir-fries, stuffings, and dumpling fillings for extra texture and a sweet flavor.jicaa

Cleaning: They should be thoroughly washed then peeled by first cutting of the top and bottom and then peeling the remaining skin.

Conserving and Storing

Harvested corms can be stored in the bottom of the fridge in sealed plastic bags or containers to prevent them from drying out. There are always a few that rot during storage and need to be sorted out from time to time. This rot is often due to even slight damage to the skin during harvesting & later handling. They keep quite well in the ground where they grew while the temperature stays low enough to maintain dormancy. Dried out corms or ones that have been frozen will not grow. They also keep very well in cool damp sand. We have kept corms like this for well over a year in perfect condition.


History: The water chestnut has been cultivated in China since ancient times.



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