BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Poisoning Myself with (Horse) Chestnuts

with 5 comments


Those foreboding spiky shells should have been a sign.

I guess I’ll be more cautious about foraging from now on. A few ago, I gathered these chestnuts from a downtown tree. They looked like the whole roasted chestnuts I had in China, they felt like chestnuts, a guy working on the house told me they were chestnuts. What else could they be? Their spiky shells were a bit foreboding: perhaps that was a sign.

Now weeks later, I just got around to roasting them tonight. I knifed “x’s” onto the shell and popped them in the oven at 400. When they came out, the flesh seems chalkier than I remembered. But I took a bite. And ick, was it bitter. Hmm, could there be a poisonous variety of chestnut, I thought? Sure enough: horse chestnuts were what I plucked. I hardly heard of them: just vaguely remember some homeopathic toner I bought with their bark listed as an ingredient. I washed my mouth out with soap and frantically dialed poison control. A kind nurse answered right away and put me at ease. I only ate enough to maybe hurt my stomach. I drank water and chased it down with Halloween candy, and so far, so good. But one things for sure: I’ll certainly be more cautious when foraging for mushrooms, or any other wild-crafted foods sometime. And now I’ve still got a hankering for chestnuts, real sweet American or European ones, that is.


An edible chestnut in the shell (By pizzodisevo /Flickr Creative Commons)


The horse chestnuts I found scattered around the tree.


Written by baltimoregon

October 31, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

5 Responses

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  1. ohmigosh — hope you recovered. If Halloween candy is the cure, couldn’t be too bad!


    November 2, 2009 at 9:59 am

  2. glad to hear that all is well – be careful! judy


    November 2, 2009 at 11:11 am

  3. Better stick to the chanterelles- easily identifiable!


    November 4, 2009 at 5:33 am

  4. Yikes! I talked through a caller on the MFP hotline about the same thing last year. Be careful out there!


    November 4, 2009 at 4:40 pm

  5. Thanks! Though now I’m looking for a source of real chestnuts:) Any chestnut recipes to recommend?


    November 4, 2009 at 6:00 pm

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