Apr 302011

[photo-fresh water chestnuts]

Ingredient Name: Water Chestnut.  Also called Chinese Water Chestnut

Ingredient Name in Chinese: 馬蹄 (mǎ tí)


  • Water chestnut is a corm of an aquatic plant native to China that grows in marshes underwater in the mud.  A corm is an edible short swollen plant stem that grows underground and serves as the plants storage organ to survive through winter, drought, or other adverse conditions.
  • It is often confused with water caltrop which really is a different species.  Water chestnut is also not the same food item as chestnuts.
  • The small rounded corm has a paper-thin brown skin and crsipy white flesh that has a slightly sweet taste.
  • Water chestnut stays crisp and crunchy even after it is cooked.
  • When buying water chestnuts, choose ones that are firm.

Water Chestnut Uses and Health Benefits:

  • Water chestnut can be eaten raw, boiled, grilled, and often pickled or canned.  It can also be grounded into a flour to make water chestnut cake.
  • Water chestnut is rich in carbohydrate and starch, 90% and 60% by dry weight respectively.
  • This corm is also a good source of dietary fiber, riboflavin, vitamin B6, potassium, copper, and manganese.


  • Rinse fresh water chestnuts under cool water to remove dirt or sand debris before peeling.  Sometimes the outer skin can have parasites since the corm grows underwater in muddy marshes.
  • Discard any parts of the water chestnut flesh that is bruised, mushy, or has turned yellow under the brown peel.  Good water chestnuts should be very hard.
  • Store the corms in a dry and cool location.  I like to put them in a paper bag inside the refrigerator.
  • Although water chestnuts can be eaten raw, I personally prefer to cook them before consumption.
  • See a list of soup recipes using water chestnut.

Where to Buy:

  • Fresh water chestnuts are available at Asian supermarkets.  Some large mainstream chain supermarkets will also carry fresh or canned versions.
  • Canned water chestnuts can also be purchased online.

How do you use your water chestnut? Leave a comment below to share your ideas.

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Resources and further reading: Wikipedia

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