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Preparing and using those scrumptious black walnuts.

Yes, it is worth all the effort!

An open letter to Susan Motl, who asked about black walnuts: My wife and I lived in Missouri for nine years, and had plenty of black walnut trees.

We didn't worry about when they were ripe. We just picked them up when they fell, usually after a frost. We put them in burlap sacks and stacked them under shelter with space for air to circulate around them, until the husks dried.

To clean them, I set up a cement mixer, put in some fist-sized rocks, some walnuts, and as much water as possible without having it spill over. Start the machine and let it run until the black husk is ground off. This works better if the nuts have been soaked overnight.

Then dump the contents of the mixer into a box with drainage holes or cracks and hose it down good. Remove the rocks, and put the nuts into a tub of water. Most of the bad nuts will float, and can be discarded. Drain off the water and spread the nuts on a screen to dry.

Now, to crack walnuts. There are many kinds of crackers on the market. I like to crack them with a claw hammer and a slab of iron (mine is 1" x 8" x 12") and a special holder I made from a piece of strapping used to anchor mobile homes. (See sketch.) Put a walnut in the holder with the stem end against the anvil and hammer on the blossom end. Hit with increasing force until the nut cracks. You'll get larger pieces this way.

Recipes? We used walnuts in place of other nuts in many recipes, including pecan pie, carrot salad, peanut butter and apple butter sandwiches sprinkled with walnuts.

Have fun with your walnuts: they are lots of good eating.

When we had black walnut trees, we spread the nuts in the gravel driveway, where the comings and goings of traffic wore off the hulls. A few nuts got broken, but that made the bluejays very happy!

As for uses, if you ever get the blues because you're a po'homesteader who can't live it up in town like the rich folks, try this: Milk a goat or cow; make ice cream; put generous scoops into your fanciest dishes; drizzle some fresh clover or wildflower honey from your beehives over it; and top it off with plenty of sinfully rich, aromatic, scrumptious black walnut pieces. Who says you can't be decadent just because you're self sufficient!
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Kennedy, Kit C.; Belanger, Jd
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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