Surely these days you have found a lot of chestnuts on the ground, as well as the «cover» that surrounds them. The question is, are they edible? Those are the chestnuts that smell and taste so good? The ones that they sell us in the typical stalls of the date in their newspaper cones? Most likely the answer in all cases is no.
There are two types of chestnuts that are very similar, but nevertheless come from totally different trees and that, above all, one can be eaten and the other cannot.
The inedible is the fruit of the horse chestnut trees (Aesculus hippocastanum). These are large trees belonging to the Sapindáceas family. They are often used to favor shadows in parks because they have abundant branches and leaves and are also very aesthetic.
The shape of its leaf is large, opposite and formed by 5 or 7 leaflets —Leaf of a leaf called compound. The fruit, which is what interests us, is presented in a green capsule that remains in that color for a longer time, even when they have already fallen from the tree and have fewer thorns and are more separated from each other.. Also, normally it only houses a chestnut inside.
This chestnut is characterized by having an oval or rounder shape with a white base and does not end in a point (something that does happen with the edible).
What you will not appreciate with the naked eye is that its taste is absolutely bitter and that It is not recommended to eat it because it contains esculin, which is highly toxic to humans..
So, what are the ones that we can eat and that only with their smell when we roast them place us in the very center of autumn?
We can eat (and we must, because in addition to being delicious, they are very low in calories) those that are the fruit of the chestnut (Castanea sativa) a tree in the Fagaceae family. Contrary to that of the indias, its simple (not compound) serrated and more elongated leaf and the capsule of its fruit is like a globe full of fine thorns; green when not yet ripe and brown when it falls from the tree. Their appearance it is similar to a sea urchin. This «wrap» also differs from the previous one in that usually holds two or three fruits, that is, two or three chestnuts.
Also, the edible has a flatter shape at the bottom and its base is more brown than white and ends in a beak or it is more pointed than inedible.
And of course, the last and main difference is in the taste. As bitter is the inedible as good and appetizing those that feed us our autumns.
One last curiosity, if you have ever thought about where the expression will come from, what a bang! Be careful not to see for yourself by standing under one of these trees on a windy day.