A wild nut is a life saver, as it is used to boost energy by hikers, foragers and trail walkers. Most nut species start this way and although many have been domesticated for commercial cultivation, some still remain in the wild. This nut is part of those still in the wild.
Edible beech nuts are pod-nuts produced by the beech tree, also known as, the queen of British trees. Beech trees are native to Central, Southern England and America.
Beech tree has two well known species, the Amercian beech tree and the European beech tree; and the two beech trees species are distinguished by the different beech nuts and leaves they produce.
Beech tree grows wild in temperate climate zones: North Africa, Asia Europe and America and its cousins are found in Chile, New Guinea and New Zealand also growing in the wild.
Known as Njugu ya Mfune in Swahili, beech nuts are encased in green prickly cases. Beech nut husks can easily be mistaken for acorn husks. To access the inner edible white beech nut seed, the prickly outer beech nut husk is removed, then the inner second lighter sheath is peeled off by hand.
Beech nuts are consumed as whole raw nut, but if you want to eat many it’s best if you roast them to remove capronic and caprylic fatty acids, which may be harmful, and can cause gastric issues.
Beech nuts have been a staple food for Native American tribes for millennia and they eat beech nut raw with no effect having developed resistance to the toxins.
In culinary beech nuts are dried, ground into powder, and used with other flours to make cakes and breads. Beech nut oil is used as a salad dressing whilst new beech tree leaves are used as an ingredient in salads.
Young beech leaves are also soaked in brandy and gin for a few weeks to make a tasty drink, Beech Noyau. Beech nuts when roasted, harden and become golden brown and can be used as a substitute to coffee.
To add beech nut to your diet, get beech nut products such as oils and flour in local retail stores and add them during meal preparation. It’s good to note that beech nuts though grouped in the same category as chestnuts and acorns, are different from the latter two.
Njugu ya mfune health benefits
- Improve digestion due to high content of fiber and cellulose.
- Beech nut oil is used for stimulating hair growth.
- Relief from headache
- Boosts energy
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