You will get the most beautiful specimens if you collect sweet chestnuts yourself. But not every chestnut that you find in the forest is also a sweet chestnut. Because in addition to the edible fruit, there is also the horse chestnut. This is not edible.
How to recognize chestnuts when collecting them
Chestnuts don’t grow everywhere. They are most commonly found in the western Black Forest, the Palatinate, in the Odenwald, on the Saar, Moselle, and Nahe as well as on the Taunus and the Main. When collecting, you should therefore always pay attention to the appearance of the fruit so as not to confuse it with the horse chestnut. Because there are clear differences.
- The skin of the chestnut is densely covered with thin spines. In autumn, the spines are usually already light brown in color. There may be several fruits in the shell. These have a flattened side and are tapered.
- Horse chestnuts, on the other hand, still have green skin in autumn. In contrast to the chestnut, there are only a few spines on the shell. The fruits themselves are oval or round. There are almost never more fruits in the bowl.
- Take a closer look at the tree itself. While the leaves of the chestnut have individual elliptical leaves, the leaves of the horse chestnut are finger-shaped.
- Horse chestnuts are toxic to the human body. Stomach upset and nausea can result. Therefore, you should always make sure that you collect the chestnuts together with the shell.
Ripe chestnuts are evenly brown
If you collect chestnuts, they should always be evenly brown. Chestnuts with white spots are still unripe. However, these can still ripen at home.
- If you collect unripe chestnuts, you can let them ripen. To do this, wrap the fruit in paper, for example, newspaper, and let it ripen for a while in a warm, dark place.
- It is best to remove the peel when collecting. In order not to injure yourself, you can either wear thick gloves and break open the shell with a knife, or you can gently crush the shell with your shoe.
- Ripe chestnuts can also be kept wrapped in paper for a few weeks.
- The fruits are easy to prepare at home in the oven. For this, you should only be peeled properly.