Ginkgo nuts (銀杏 Ginnan) are a favourite Japanese treat, enjoyed during autumn when they are in season. It’s easy to see why they are so popular because they are so delicious. But make sure to pace yourself, so you don’t end up eating too much. Why do you ask? Because if you overeat ginkgo nuts, there are some dangerous side effects that can occur!
Ginkgo Nuts (銀杏 Ginnan) in Excess Are Dangerous?
Autumn is so beautiful in Japan, Ginkgo trees (イチョウ）change colour and line the streets in a beautiful sea of yellow. Ginkgo trees are not only pretty but they also deliver ginkgo nuts, a delicious snack! While the trees may produce a rather odious smell, the nuts are actually delicious and nutritious. They contain vitamins A, B, C, protein, iron and potassium. In China, ginkgo nuts have been even used as medicine.
However, even if you fall in love, make sure you don’t go overboard because eating a large quantity of Ginkgo can cause Ginkgotoxin poisoning!
What Happens if You Eat Too Many Ginkgo Nuts?
Ginkgo nuts contain Ginkgotoxin (Methylpyridoxine), which impedes Vitamin B6 exhaustion and can cause convulsions. The lack of Vitamin B6 can cause the following serious symptoms.
Vomiting and Diarrhoea
These are the most common symptoms, due to food poisoning. The symptoms usually start appearing within 12 hours after eating Ginkgo nuts.
Difficulty Breathing and Loss of Consciousness
If you thought vomiting and diarrhoea were bad, it could be worse. Too many ginkgo nuts can cause difficulty breathing, leading to loss of consciousness and in the worst case, a shock that can lead to death.
If you feel dizzy after eating Ginkgo nuts, go to the hospital ASAP!
Ginkgo allergic reactions can sometimes occur upon touch. Signs of an allergic reaction to ginkgo may include a rash, hives, itching, and facial or mouth swelling. If you touch them with your bare hands, avoid touching other parts of your body and make sure to wash your hands immediately. In most cases, they are sold on handy sticks so you can avoid touching them with your hands.
So, How Much is Okay to Eat?
In general, 40 nuts per day for adults and 7 per day for children are considered safe.
40 nuts, that’s loads! is what you may be thinking, and you’d be right!
But it is worth noting that 70 percent of Ginkgotoxin poisoning patients are children. The younger they are, the easier for them to be affected. So, you have to be very careful when giving ginkgo nuts to children. A tiny quantity might cause poisoning so it’s best to avoid giving them to small children and babies altogether.
2 Easy Ginkgo Nut Recipes
Here are my favourite recipes to enjoy Ginkgo nuts!
Roasted Ginkgo Nuts (煎り銀杏 Iri-Ginnan）
- Ginkgo nuts (20-25 nuts)
- Salt (1/2 cup)
Step1. Crack the nutshells using pliers or kitchen scissors. Or you can crack them with the back of a knife.
Step2. Put the ginkgo nuts into a heated frying pan. (Oil isn’t necessary)
Step3. Heat for 5 minutes (small to medium heat) until you start to hear the shells pop open.
Step4. Sprinkle with salt.
Step5. Remove the shells, they are now ready to eat!
*Please be careful as they might pop up and out the pan when heating.
Ginkgo Nut Rice (銀杏ご飯 Ginnan Gohan)
- 4/5 cups regular rice
- 1/5 cup of Mochi rice (glutinous rice)
- Approx. 180ml water
- 10-12 ginkgo nuts
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cm piece kombu kelp
Step1. Rinse the regular and Mochi rice together, drain and leave it to rest for 30 minutes.
Step2. Crack open the Gingko nutshells, remove the shells and skin.
Step3. Cook the rice in a rice cooker, add sake and water to slightly below the 1-cup mark. Add the prepared Gingko nuts and salt, mix well, add the kombu kelp, and press the start button.
Step4. When the rice is cooked, remove the kombu, wait for 10 minutes, and gently fluff. Now it’s ready to eat!
Tips: You can roast ginkgo nuts in a frying pan to make removing the shells easier.
It’s Definitely Worth it!
While Gingko nuts are fairly hard to come by in Australia, they’re a very popular autumn snack in Japan. Now that you are aware of the dangers of eating too many Ginkgo nuts, and touching them with your bare hands, you can safely enjoy the yummy taste! The next time you walk through a Ginkgo lined street, why don’t you collect the Ginkgo nuts and bring them home for a nice snack? I know the smell may put you off but it is worth it!