Conkers are the brown seed that come from the horse chestnut tree. They are available all throughout the year, and they come in spiky casing. The brown appearance is quite appealing, and it looks as if may taste good when roasted on a fire. Even though they may look appealing, you cannot eat them. You can’t eat it raw, fried, or roasted.
The following are some of the reasons why you should not eat conkers:
Conkers are poisonous:
It is quite confusing for many people why conkers are referred to as horse chestnuts. They also often get confused with 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 horses either. However, deer and wild boar seem to consume them safely.
There are chemicals like glycosides and saponins in the seed, and these are often 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 moths away.
Conkers contain 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 a result of this chemical. The seed looks very similar to chestnuts and thus many people get misled into eating conkers thinking that they are chestnuts.
Chestnuts have a sweet taste while conkers have that rough, bitter taste. British schoolchildren had the habit of tying the conker seeds to their shoelaces and smashing them into bits and pieces as they play. Sweet chestnuts and conkers are distant relatives, and chestnuts are very much liked by people when they are roasted. You should also know that chestnuts and conkers are two different things and chestnuts can be eaten while conkers are only suitable for shoelaces.
It is said that during the World War II, there was a shortage of food supply and the British government experimented with conkers to check if they were edible. If they were, they would have a readily available food supply. Later they found out that by crushing and leaching with boiling water these seeds can be eaten safely. When conkers were fed to pigs, they 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 craft-works such as pencil toppers and even necklaces but make sure that it does not get into the hands of children.