The bitter-sweet of a white oak acorn which you nibble in a
bleak November walk over the tawny earth is more to me
than a slice of imported pineapple.
-Henry David Thoreau
Many of us, even in our own backyards, stumble upon Black Walnuts quite regularly. Typically they are gathered up and thrown out. What is not known is that you are throwing out a very edible and delicious nut. In this post on edible plants we take a look at the Black Walnut.
Where to Find:
The Black Walnut tree is indigenous to the Midwestern area of the United States. Typically these trees will be found in small groups or intermingled with American elm, hackberry, boxelder, sugar maple, green and white ash, basswood, red oak, and hickory. These trees do require about 25-35 inches of precipitation a year and 140-170 days that are frost free in a year. These factors limit its growth in cold or dry areas.
The Black Walnut can be used in many applications. It has been said to have a disinfecting effect, and is used as an herbal remedy for digestive problems. The most useful application when lost in the wild will be as fuel. The Walnut does take much effort and time to open up, so it might not be the best choice, but every option matters when you are trying to survive.
Once you get to the meat of the Black Walnuts you will want to know that they have a strong, rich, smoky flavor with a hint of wine.
- To get to the edible part of the black walnut, you will need to set aside a couple of days, a knife, a container that you can fill with water to wash the nuts in, and you may want to cover your hands (or else they will be stained black).
- Start with a Black Walnut that you have located on the ground, they will be a bit softer and you won’t have to risk injury to obtain one. Once you have a couple, find a rock that you can work on.
- The next step will be to take your knife and cut the hull off of the nut by trying to score the outside of the hull in line dividing the nut into two parts. Then you can use your foot or another rock to break the hull loose from the rest of the walnut. The hull, normally green in color or brown if it has been off the tree longer, will have no real use so you will
want to throw it to the side.
- After the nut is removed from husk, you will need to clean the nut. The best way to do this is to fill a container with water and some gravel and mix them about. Please take note that this will stain water ever container you are using. You may need to change the water 3 or 4 times in order to get the nut totally clean and free of any hull.
- Once the nut has been thoroughly cleaned you will want to leave it in Black Walnut Nut Meat in direct sunlight for 24-36 hours.
- Then let the nuts dry for one or two weeks. At that point they will be ready to be cracked open and the nut meat can be enjoyed.
That is the basics of enjoying Black Walnuts. As you can see, this is a long process that can be messy, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Often people find it easier to process 100 or more walnuts at a time. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.