As Autumn approaches in our area of Northeastern Oklahoma, many of our nut trees are beginning to shed their crops, dropping nuts beneath trees, in the garden, yard, bushes, and even on an occasional unsuspecting human below the tree. Our house was unfortunately planted after the tree, and a tad too close, as we now endure the season with many a sudden "Bang!" when nuts land on the roof. This is the sign – it is time to collect the harvest.
Every year, I intend to create an Instructable for such a harvest, yet every year, I put it off. This year, feeling rather industrious, I felt it was time to create one. However, while searching to see if anyone else had already created such a tutorial, there it was. 'Triplezee' had already created an Instructable Forage and process your own black walnuts.
I’ve always felt funny about creating a duplicate, not wanting to detract from someone else’s hard work, so I gave up on the idea. But wait! As luck would have it, Triplezee’s Instructable was entered in the Hunter-Gatherer Contest, which ended October 6th. There was also another contest that did not end until October 13th, called Remix Contest, which encourages members to re-create existing Instructibles. Voila! I could participate after all!
A rose is a rose is a rose. But the same does not apply to walnut trees. English walnuts, also referred to as Persian walnuts - Juglans regia, are the most common walnut available in the United States market, which is also the world's largest exporter of walnuts. This Instructable features Juglans nigra, also a walnut tree that is native to eastern North America, though not as easy to shell. Crack open an English nut, and you will find the nut is easily removed in whole, or even half. Not the case with black walnuts, as the shells are extremely hard, and the nuts are tightly wedged into the shells with deeply-hidden crevices.
Black walnuts are one of the healthiest of tree nuts. They are low in saturated fats, high in unsaturated fats, a good source of protein, iron, fiber, minerals and Vitamin A.
Once a black walnut tree is established, typically requiring eight to ten years, it will not only provide a bounty of nuts, but provide memories for generations of families. Many people recite stories of gathering black walnuts at their grandparents’ home, reminiscing about the dark stain left on any hands unwise enough to try processing them without gloves. Special memories include baked goodies made with the hard-earned nuts.There are difficult years, though, when a black walnut tree simply does not produce well.
The wood is incredibly hard, and notably beautiful, highly sought after by wood turners and for archery use, such as making long bows. The nuts are valued, and often at expensive cost, due to the amount of processing and tedious work involved in extraction of the nut meats, which differ from an English Walnut in that the black walnut tends to lodge itself inside the shell quite well. If you have ever shelled English walnuts, you may have noticed how very little care is necessary to obtain a whole, or even half nut, intact. Quite the opposite with a black walnut, but if done correctly, the rewards you reap will be well worth the effort.
Follow along as I show you what black walnut processing is all about.