Friday, September 13, 2013

Black Walnuts

The weather is getting colder which means the black walnut harvest is almost ready and the black walnuts I cured from last year are ready!  How do you cure black walnuts you ask?  Right in the shell.  That's how my Mom taught me to do it, and it works beautifully.  You can cure them for 5-6 weeks and they should be ready. I kind of got side tracked with mine, but they stay good for a long long time in the shell.  If you jump the gun on these, and try them right away,  the meat inside  has the consistency of rubber.

Black walnuts have an earthy, nutty flavor like no other nut. They are vastly different than the English walnut. You either love them or you hate them.  They are extremely hard to crack open, at least the ones here in Upstate NY are.  You need a hammer and a rock or brick.  My Mom always used an old iron that you would need to heat on a wood fired oven from my Grandmother's era.  If you try to crack them on your table, you will only succeed in having a lovely black walnut impression pressed artfully in the wood.

Here they are in the shell:

These had the green outer hull removed and were dried last year.  I load them up in a wagon and dump them in my driveway.  Drive over them a few times and let them dry out a bit.  You can do it by hand, or try to figure out some other way to do it.  I'd be happy to hear how you do it, send me a line!  If you do want to start, now is the time.  Don't wait until they turn black, then you will really have a mess on your hands.  You are guaranteed to get yourself stained in some way or other harvesting them.  Wear gloves and something you don't really love.

So lets assume that you have now harvested and dried your nuts.  You have waited at least 5-6 weeks with the silent desperation of someone who can't find the hidden gifts when Christmas is around the corner.  You have waited.....and waited....and waited....

Now that day has arrived!  All your prepping has led you to this.  You artfully place the nut on your rock (or whatever you may use), hold it carefully, and beat the crap out of it.  You hear that first crack.  This is your signal to ease up a bit on the hammering.  If you don't you will have a small amount of smashed nut and shell on your rock, and the rest of the nut spread to the farthest reaches of the room.

I am only a quarter of the way in on what I have, but here is a pic:

I'll either put them in a mason jar with the lid on, or I'll vacuum seal them.  I haven't decided yet.  

On a side note, you will  have some of these left over... if a nut doesn't cure and it dries up inside you can sometimes get it to break in half evenly.  I think I'm going to turn mine into ghosts, mini skeletons,  or mini killers from the movie Scream for Halloween.  I haven't decided yet, but I'll  make a post for it.  If you have a project in mind for them, you could always drill a small hole to let the air in and dry out the nut on the inside.