Can you eat a raw chestnut? (1 Reason to avoid)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you eat a raw chestnut’. We will talk the benefits of eating chestnuts, health risks associated with eating raw chestnut and the procedure to prepare chestnuts the right way. 

Can you eat a raw chestnut?

You can eat a raw chestnut, however, for most people it is generally not safe to eat a raw chestnut. 

An overview of the Chestnut:

Chestnut belongs to the Fagaceae family with over 9 species with variable sizes. The two popular chest nuts; horse chestnuts and water chestnuts belong to separate species. Water chestnut has a soft, starchy and sweet flesh when cooked. However, in most cases must not be eaten raw.

Horse chestnuts have medicinal properties but are generally deemed to be inedible; both cooked and raw.

 Chestnuts have a spiky exterior of husk, inside the enclosure there could be 2 to 3 nuts. The hard-shell encloses edible flesh inside, which in its raw form is bitter and can be dangerous if consumed. However, when the chestnut is roasted or boiled, the inside becomes soft and sweet.  

Why must you avoid eating raw chestnut?

Raw chestnuts have a high amount of tannic acid which in large quantities, could cause you to have stomach irritation, liver damage, or kidney damage. Chestnuts need to be cooked completely, to lower the tannin levels and avoid getting any digestive issues.

People who have liver disease, kidney problems, and intestinal issues should avoid eating raw chestnuts.

How to prepare chestnuts? (roast and peel)

Before they are eaten, chestnuts are cured for a week to let the starch change to sugar.

Chestnuts take no more than 30 minutes to be ready for consumption. Chestnut can be boiled, roasted, grilled, grinded and made into a dish or a dessert. 

Chestnuts are blanched or boiled before they are peeled or skinned. It is difficult to remove the outer coverings of a raw chestnut. Some people may prefer to remove the outer shell and skin before they cook. The correct way to dehull a raw chestnut is to locate the flat side of the chestnut and draw a cross over it. Carefully cut through the shell avoiding the flesh.

The pellicle or the skin surrounding the flesh needs to be removed now. Use your knife to peel it off.

Americans like to use chestnut as dessert while in Europe, it is more of a staple to substitute pasta or potatoes because of their high starch content. In America, chestnut seasoned with butter, onion and herbs is used a stuffing for thanksgiving turkey.

How to roast chestnuts in an oven?

To roast chestnut in oven, make sure to cut slits or hole into the shell to prevent them from exploding inside the oven. You do not need to remove the shell and skin just yet. After they have been roasted remove the shell and skin while they are still hot, otherwise, the encasing will toughen again when the nuts cool down.

  1. Place the chestnuts on a sheet pan and roast to 425 F. 
  2. Let it bake until you detect a roasting smell and the shell becomes loose. 
  3. Small chestnuts take 7 to 10 minutes while the large varieties of chestnuts take 15-20 minutes.
  4. You may need to experiment a little before you determine how long it takes for the chestnuts to cook. If chestnuts seem to be undercooked, you can put them back in the oven.
  5. The chestnuts appear to be thoroughly cooked when they give off a nutty smell and are too hot to touch.
  6. Make sure not to burn the chestnut.

Instead of the oven, you can roast the chestnuts on the stovetop. Put the chestnuts in the pan and roast until the shell starts to soften. Some people like to roast their chestnuts over coals.

How to peel chestnuts?
To peel chestnut, make sure to do it while they are still hot. Use a cloth to hold it and use the other hand to peel. 

What are the health benefits of eating chestnuts?

Chestnuts are a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants. The antioxidants; gallic acid and ellagic acid, manifolds into a greater quantity when the chestnut is cooked. 

Magnesium and potassium from chestnut support heart health. Eating chestnuts will protect you from cardiovascular diseases, heart diseases, and strokes.

Chestnuts support gut health by promoting probiotics, while the high fiber content aids in digestion and manages blood sugar. Chestnuts have a low glycemic index; the sugar it provides is slowly released into the blood stream. 

In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you eat a raw chestnut’. We talked about the benefits of eating chestnuts, the health risks associated with eating raw chestnuts, and the procedure to prepare chestnuts the right way. 

Citations

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-chestnuts#1
https://www.thespruceeats.com/raw-chestnuts-overview-1808316
https://oureverydaylife.com/what-is-a-kukui-nut-12375807.html

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.