Conkers is the brown seed which is got from the horse chestnut tree. They are available all through the year, and they come in spiky cases. The brown appearance is quite appealing, and it looks as if it will taste good when roasted on the fire. But even though they look appealing you cannot eat them. You can’t eat it raw or fried or roasted.
The following are some of the reasons why you should not eat conkers:
Conkers is poisonous:
It is quite confusing for many people like conkers are often called as horse chestnuts, and they get confused with the sweet chestnuts which are quite delicious. One thing you need to understand is that both might have similar names, but you cannot eat horse chestnuts as they can be very poisonous. Just because it is named horse chestnuts, it does not mean that you can feed them to the horses. However, deer and wild boar seem to consume them safely.
There are chemicals like glycosides and saponins in the seed, and these are usually poisonous. But animals like deer have the capability to break these down and these chemicals act as insect repellents, and it is also said that these seeds can keep spiders away when you place them in various locations in your home. The chemicals in horse chestnuts can also keep the moths away.
Conkers has a chemical named aescin which is slightly poisonous, and it can make you vomit and even cause paralysis. The seed of conkers tastes very bitter as it contains the chemical, aescin. The seed of conkers looks very similar to chestnut and thus many people get misled into eating conkers thinking that it is chestnut.
Chestnuts have a sweet taste while conkers has a rough and bitter taste. British schoolchildren had the habit of tying the conker seeds to their shoelaces and smash them into bits and pieces as they play. Sweet chestnut and conkers are distant relatives, and chestnuts are very much liked by people when they are roasted. You must always know that chestnuts and conkers are two different things and chestnuts can be eaten while conkers is suitable only for shoelaces.
It is said that during the World War II, there is a shortage of food supply and the British government experimented with conkers to check if they were edible as if it was, they would have a readily available edible seed. Later they found out that by crushing and leaching with boiling water these seeds can be eaten safely. When conkers was fed to pigs, it refused to eat them.
Just because you can’t eat them, it does not mean that you can’t play with them. You can make creative craftworks such as pencil toppers and even necklaces but make sure that it does not get into the hands of children.