Buckeye nuts, the fruit of the buckeye tree, are a staple in the American Midwest. They’re popular with children, some people use them as lucky charms, and they are the symbol of Ohio State University. Travelers to Ohio can often glimpse the nut hanging from windows, key chains, or even from the rear view mirrors in cars. However, people from other states or other regions of the world might not know much about them. Read on for some basic information about buckeye nuts and their various uses.
The Appearance of Buckeye Nuts
Buckeye nuts are small and brown with white tops. They look somewhat like large hazelnuts and are sometimes known as "horse chestnuts." While on the tree, the nuts are encased in a hard, spiky shell which is a light green color. The shells remain tightly closed until the nuts fall from the tree. Shells usually contain two or more buckeye nuts and are a common sight on the ground in September and October.
Eating Buckeye Nuts
Buckeye nuts are actually mildly toxic in their uncooked state, but you can eat them after removing them from their shells and roasting them.
In the past, Native Americans would roast, peel, and mash the buckeye nuts into a fairly nutritional paste that they would eat.
These nuts also have uses in medicine. To make a salve for treating rashes and sores, you will first crush the nuts with a hammer or a rolling pin. Then, you will cover them with water and boil them two different times, draining in between and adding a bit of lard. Buckeyes can also be cooked and beaten into a paste that serves as kind of supplement used to treat arthritis.
Medicinal tea can be made as well, but this actually comes from the bark of the buckeye tree, rather than from the nuts.
Buckeye nuts actually contain high volumes of tannic acid. When blanched, the nuts will release the acid, which can be used in making leather.
Residents of the Midwest area will make decorations out of buckeyes as well, due to its affiliation with Ohio State University. Usually the nuts are dried out first and then strung into things such as necklaces or bracelets.
A candy also exists that people have named after buckeye nuts, even though they do not actually contain any. They are instead made resemble buckeye nuts using chocolate fudge and peanut butter; the chocolate serves as the shell and the peanut butter gives the illusion of the white top.