So, we began to "drop" rock on the green shells to open the chestnuts and get the brown nuts from inside. We collected quite a few, and then the idea came to me that we should try and roast the chestnuts. They looked delicious, and even though I don't like most kinds of nuts, I was willing to try them.
So, I sent home a few with the other little girl, and then, when Grig got home, we went out and picked up some more from our lawn and took them inside. We looked up how to make oven-roasted chestnuts.
First, you take them out of their green shell (which we had already done). Then, we poked all of the nuts with forks so the steam could escape. We then drizzled the chestnuts in water and stuck them in the oven which was preheated to 400 degrees.
After 20 minutes, we took them out and began to peel them. It took a long time, but after we finished one, I gave it to Kevin to try.
He took a little nibble, and gave it back. "Do you like it?" I asked him.
"No," he said, "it's yucky."
"Ok," I said, assuming that he just had a palate like his mother. So, I decided to try it.
I took a bite, and a strong, bitter, nasty flavor filled my mouth. I was pretty disgusted. I don't like most kinds of nuts though, so I wasn't super surprised that I didn't like it.
I kept peeling nuts, assuming that when I was done, we could grind them up and use them in food, even if we didn't like them.
Grig came in from showering and he began to help me shell the nuts. I gave him the rest of the nut that Kevin and I had tried, and he popped the rest of it in his mouth.
"How is it?" I asked. "Does it taste like a chestnut."
He nodded, and made an "Mmmm" sound, and then I watched his expression change. His look of pleasure quickly faded into a look of disgust. He finished chewing and swallowing, then said, "That tasted pretty gross."
He came and started helping me shell the rest anyway.
Allopex, Grig's brother, came up next, and I gave him a different nut to try. Havelock wasn't home. The nut I gave Allopex peeled really easily and looked fresh and tender. I figured that if any of the nuts were going to taste good, it was going to be that one.
However, after a small bite, he expressed the same aversion to the flavor.
We kept peeling for a few minutes, but then Grig said, "Why don't we just go give the rest of these back to the deer if they taste this bad."
They were difficult to peel anyway, but I'm stubborn. I kept doggedly peeling the chestnuts. Finally, after a few minutes, I agreed to give up. I didn't like them anyway, I just hated wasting food.
Someone, I think it was Allopex, made the comment, "Maybe there are different varieties of chestnut?"
So, I decided to look it up. What I found was pretty interesting.
This is what our chestnuts looked like. These are all over the place, and Grig had identified them as chestnuts. He wasn't wrong.
However, this is what edible sweet chestnuts look like:
The chestnuts in our yard are actually called Horse Chestnuts. And guess what?
Surprise, surprise, not only are they not edible, but they are actually toxic. Animals don't even like to eat them. They're pretty poisonous.
No wonder they tasted so bitter!
Grateful that my husband was less stubborn that I was (and grateful that we didn't try to make bread out of toxic chestnuts), I quickly called my neighbor and told her not to eat the horse chestnuts.
No one exhibited any symptoms of poisoning, and from what I was reading, it sounds like you have to eat quite a few before you'll really get sick or die. We laughed about it quite a while though.
Havelock was grateful that he missed the poisoning, and the rest of were grateful that nature was kind enough to warn us by making them taste so awful.
So, before you eat chestnuts or other kinds of fruits or vegetables, make sure that they are really what you think they are.
It might save your life.