Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chestnuts & Buckeyes, not the same nut!

Back in the day when I first became interested in foraging for food, I got really excited about all the "chestnuts" falling around my cabin. I collected massive basket fulls, and felt like I had struck gold in the yummy nut lotto! That is until my poor boyfriend at the time ate them.
He believed me that they were chestnuts and while I was asleep one night he boiled a bunch down and began peeling and eating them - he said they tasted bitter and sick but he ate about 10 of them anyway and got really bad stomach probs the next day.
The internet was not as saturated with info as it is now, but he decided to look up more about cooking chestnuts since his were so f'en gross and discovered he'd been eating poisonous buckeyes, otherwise known as "horse chestnuts" ( they are poisonous to horses).
Poor guy. He never was right after that. He never was right before that too though.
So here are clear pictures for ya'll food foragers out there who might be curious about these nuts...
This picture below is the big shiny HORSE CHESTNUT, or BUCKEYE. It is poisonous to people and to some animals too. DO NOT EAT THIS NUT!

This next picture below is a real EDIBLE CHESTNUT! You can eat these, most people prepare them first by roasting or boiling. But HERE they say you can go ahead and eat them raw too. (I am gonna roast mine! mmmmm)



Dana Seilhan said...

FYI, all buckeyes are horse chestnuts, but not all horse chestnuts are buckeyes.

I've heard you can leach the tannins out of horse chestnuts and then they're edible (kind of like with acorns), but I don't know that for sure. Worth further research.

kirk said...

There are a couple Chestnut trees in a park in town--i picked up a dozen or two as the squirrels were cutting them down. Another difference is the outer shell on chesnuts is covered with a different kind of spine--smaller and more numerous--almost cactus like--the horse chesnut has those big spikes. How do you handle those spikes?

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Thanks Dana for clarifying!
The reason I put horse chestnut over the picture of the buckeye, is because I have found it called a horse chestnut so much, and much more then I saw the edible chestnut called horse chestnut. I didn't want the name to confuse anyone.
That is interesting about possibly boiling out tannins but I would not try it unless i was 100% certain and maybe starving to death...
When the guy i mentioned in the post ate the buckeyes by accident he had boiled them over and over for hours, trying to figure out why they were not tasting right (thinking they should taste like chestnuts)... and he got really sick.
Do you know of any links to getting tannins out of buckeyes?
I wonder if the tannins in buckeyes are strong enough to tan leather?

Hey Kirk -
You are right- i should have taken pics of their cases too! The buckeye here has a smooth casing with no spikes. It's almost spongy.
The edible chestnut has a casing so spiky it's like trying to pull a nut out of a ball of hospital needles. You will bleed.
I used a leather glove and focused on the ones already falling out.