The fruit of the humble Beech tree is an edible nut that has a prickly case. You can pick them and eat the nuts (once you remove the prickly husks). Sweet tasting and pleasantly flavoured they are a great free treat for foragers.
Beech trees were known as “lovers trees” because young couples would once carve their initials in the smooth grey bark. Outdoorsmen would eat the nuts both raw and cooked whilst camping in the mountains, but for foragers, they make an ideal and freely available substitute for the very expensive pecan nut and can be used in place of them in most recipes.
How to identify a Beech Tree
Bark: Smooth and mouse grey no matter how big the tree grows.
Leaf: Shiny and green, the leaves have straight, prominent veins that go from the center to the edge, ending in a sharp tip.
Environment: Under the tree, the ground will usually be pretty bare.
Happily, I have discovered a huge selection of these trees around the local Roman Fort where I walk my dog, and also lucky for me I have discovered this wonderful recipe for Beechnut Pie.
Before you begin, remove nuts from husks.
Beechnut Pie Recipe
1 cup Golden Syrup
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups beechnuts
1 (9-inch) unbaked or frozen deep-dish pie crust
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon. Stir in beechnuts. Pour filling into pie crust.
Bake on center rack of oven for 55 to 60 minutes. Cool for 2 hours before serving.
Hint: To stop crust from burning cover edges with foil.
If pie making is too much trouble for you, just shell and roast them – they make a great healthy snack.