I thaught I would share thiese pictures from october (it’s still winter here and I am bored!). Those are black walnuts. We have lots of them around here and nobody picks them up (or gatters them). In my opinion, they are absolutely delicious, but you gotta put some work into it. First, remove the flesh - hulling - (easy if you let them sit on the ground a day or 2), then wash them (optional), lay to dry and crack them whenever you feel like enjoying some of these wonders. Note: Their hulls stain and they have extremely hard shell. I use a hammer to crack them open…
We gathered some from a wild tree last fall. If you let them sit around, the husk becomes fully black, then dries out. Then the husk is easy to get off with a light hammer. But getting the shells open is pretty difficult, and the nut meats are small and hard to extract from the shell. We used a bench vise to crack them. The taste is good though; much more flavorful than persian walnuts. Takes a little getting used to. Overall it seemed like a lot of work for a small volume of food. But perhaps a fun activity in moderation or with better machinery…
Nice pictures! Your walnuts are much bigger bigger than mine. When I’ll have spare money, I’m considering buying the “master nutcracker” http://www.masternutcracker.com/ This one seems even better: http://www.bestblackwalnutcracker.com/
Nolin nursery has a nice selection of selected black walnuts with higher kernel %. They were sold out this year, but I plan on adding a few next year as perimeter trees.
Interesting. We also have a couple of nurseries around here that sell selected black walnuts and hybrids with more “meat”. I live in the city and I had to remove two trees (grown from squirrels’ burried nuts) from my yard, as they can grow up to 30 meters high (!) and have a big root system. But I collect the nuts from the trees in my neighbourhood (others have older trees, 50 years + old).
I bought my Mom in northern IL an Emma Kay and Sparrow probably about 40 yrs ago. It was the best present I ever sent her. The whole family has enjoyed those nuts most yrs ever since. They are a lot better nut than the seedlings in that area.
Oh how wrong those people are who do not pick them up! I make the best black walnut cake with cream cheese icing. Its an ‘Ohio’ thing! Love the taste. You have to be born around them to really appreciate them.
… I want to taste that…! You’ll have to share that recipe please!!!
‘Improved’ selections, like Emma Kay, Sparrow, Clermont, etc. tend to have shells that are much thinner than ‘wild’ type BWs… some are frequently broken/damaged during removal of hulls.
While most run-of-the-mill BWs have about 15-20% kernel, by weight, others, like those mentioned above, typically run into the 30-35% kernel range - double that of wild BWs… and I’ve seen one batch of Pounds #2 BW nuts that averaged 55% kernel one year.
A vise works ok - slow, but ok if you have one. ‘Mr. Hickory’ is the best hard-shell nutcracker I’ve ever used… works great for BWs and hickories. Gerald Gardner’s ‘Master Cracker’ is good too - but beware of cheap Chinese-made knockoffs of it. I have a Kenkel cracker too… but believe I like a vise better than it, when I’m cracking BWs.
Will PM the recipe after Easter. Having 20 for luncheon so a little busy on this end!
I love black walnuts as well. Here in Maine there are very few people who know what they are. My son and I collect every fall. Some of the trees we collect from are in yards and the owners just rake them up and throw them away. What a waste. I found a tree this year that has a double shell. They are the largest black walnuts I have found here. They also are the easiest to shell. It is fairly easy to get whole halves out without breaking. Thus it is easier to get enough for baking in less time.
Just a few tips on how we process the walnuts. We wear rubber gloves when we collect and husk them as we collect. We collected five buckets this year. We bring the walnuts home and pour them a quarter bucket at a time into a bucket of water. We stir them with a large stick to wash as much oil off of the shells. The nuts that float we discard. I mean leave them for the squirrels. They will take the ones that are good. After washing them I lay them on the floor of my basement with a fan on them for two days. At this point the shell will be dried with little black residue on them. I them put them in a gunney sack until I need them.
Hi @patrick! Love your plan!! I never picked other nuts. Do you know if you have to remove the husks of other nuts too (say heartnuts, butternuts or pecans, for example) ? If so, can you use a similar “tool” ?
Pecans fall out of their shucks when ripe; same for most hickories - though sometimes you have to ‘pop’ the husks off by prying in a suture line with a knife or screwdriver.
Have no experience with hearnuts… butternuts need to be husked, more or less like a BW.
The ‘bammer’ is good - I just roll the nuts under my booted foot til I dislodge the husk.
LIke swizzle said - if you dump 'em in a bucket of water and stir vigorously with a stick - pouring off and adding fresh water until it comes off fairly clear - you’ll get most of the husk material that’s trapped in the shell’s grooves off.
Ok. Thank you for the infos. I too just roll the BW under my booted foot! Simple but efficient!
If you husk as you pick you don’t have so much work to do when you get home and you can get more nuts in a bucket. I had five, five gallon buckets of husked black walnuts. If they still had the husks on I would have needed ten to fifteen buckets to carry it all home.