True / false: Are chestnuts edible?

The difference between chestnuts and chestnuts

The chestnut, a shelled fruit, is often confused with the chestnut. They are distinguished by their bug. The chestnut has several fruits in a brown, spiky bug, while the chestnut is alone in a green bug with thorns. They can also be distinguished by their shape. Brown is rather round, while chestnut is triangular in shape. It is also smaller, slightly flattened and topped with a small point, which corresponds to the rest of the dried pistil. It is important to know how to distinguish them when picking. We explain why.

The truth about chestnuts

According to a study on plant confusions published by Anses, more than 1 in 10 plant confusions concerns chestnuts and chestnuts. What if we told you that you had never eaten chestnuts but only chestnuts? Everything we call “gladied chestnuts”, “hot chestnuts”, “chestnut cream”, “turkey with chestnuts” is just an abuse of language. Some see a historical reason for this. The term “chestnut” comes from the Italian word “marrone” which means “large edible chestnut”. What you thought were chestnuts on the market stalls in the fall are actually large chestnuts. And for good reason: horse chestnuts, the only chestnuts found in forests, are toxic and therefore inedible. The toxic components of chestnut are escin (saponins), coumarin and glycosides. If you accidentally eat one or two fruits, it can cause nausea and vomiting. If you consume more, you risk having serious digestion problems, nausea, vomiting, or throat irritation.

Choose your chestnuts wisely

We must therefore pick chestnuts and not chestnuts. It is essential to make the right choice among all those present on the ground. To choose them well, they must be heavy. Shake the shell: the fruit should not move. Make sure that they are smooth and without any holes, indicating the presence of a parasite. Another tip: soak your chestnuts. If they float, they are hollow and therefore not ripe. You have to make sure that they are very ripe. To do this, once collected, they must be consumed within the following days and kept cool in a container. They could also become moldy if they are in a humid or too hot place.

Cooking nuts

Since chestnuts are not edible, chestnuts delight us in both sweet and savory preparations. They are used for pranks, but also as accompaniment. It’s hard not to think of our beloved turkey stuffed with chestnuts which are actually chestnuts that we serve for holiday meals. Mixed with the liver, minced meat, chopped shallot, bread crumbs and beaten egg, they make a delicious and not dry stuffing. They are also ideal in veloutés or seasonal purees enhanced with autumn spices. Chestnuts are also delicious pan-fried, simply browned in butter, or mixed with other vegetables such as chanterelles, pumpkin, porcini mushrooms or parsnips. On the sweet side, it fits perfectly in a tiramisu with chestnut cream, in a tart base, in pancakes or on a cake.

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