Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner – Black Walnuts Part Two – November 13, 2011

CFN A number of hours have been spent over the last week hulling, culling, cleaning and drying our harvest of black walnuts.  All of this has been done manually; definitely a time intensive labour of curiosity.  My partner and I chose two different methods of dehulling the nuts.
I chose simply to break off the hull manually with my gloved hands and my partner chose to use a knife (see image below) to carve away the hull.  We quickly noted the difference of texture of the over ripe hulls which we found had a very creamy almost buttery texture to the hull.  We removed these creamy hulls and kept these aside for the squirrels.
The nuts that we kept for further processing had hulls which had a grainer texture.   Because the hulls did not have the softened texture of the over ripened specimens we surmised by our research that these nuts would not have been subjected to the bitterness from an over ripe hull.
The hulls were spread in a wooded area to decompose naturally.  The nuts from the over ripened hulls were spread around the trees for the squirrels and the rest were delegated to the cleaning process.
Reading up on the black walnut indicated that nuts with immature or malformed fruit would float to the surface in water while nuts with a healthy fruit growth would sink.  Water was added to the hulled nuts in a bucket.  Enough water was added to cover and allow for malformed fruit to float to the surface.
The nuts that floated to the surface were also placed around the trees.  I found each bucket of nuts required two water baths.  After filling the bucket with water, I rubbed the nuts together under the water with my gloved hands (see image below) encouraging the dislodgement of any hull remaining on the nut by the friction of nuts on one another.  The water after both washings was an inky black.  This water was disposed of in the grass along the driveway.  Remember there are “juglones” a plant inhibitor in these hulls; they will not affect the grass.
These washed nuts were then spread on framed nets (see below) which allowed for air circulation and were left in the sun to dry.  The nuts were turned and mixed up part way through the day to encourage even drying.  Luckily we have had a few nice sunny days since the last column.  They were taken in after sundown, and returned outside when the sun came up.
We will store the dried nuts in paper bags in small batches indicating the date packaged and store in a dry dark environment.
I have read quite a bit of information over the past week concerning this food source.  Of interest is the following.  Dried cured nuts in their shell are good for about three years.  The shells of these nuts are very hard.  It is recommended that the nuts be soaked in water for 8 hours before cracking open. The soaking will softened the shell for cracking. Black walnuts or parts of the tree are use in many natural remedies such as those for parasite and fungal infections.
Black walnut is also used as a disinfectant, for treatment of eczema and as a natural insecticide to name a few.  According to you can easily keep flees and ants at bay by cutting small leafy branches from your walnut tree at a slight angle.  Then place these cuttings under furniture or carpeting where the problem is occurring.  The toxicity of the active ingredient juglone decreases with time so it is recommended that the cuttings be replaced every 3 weeks.It seems that this is a plant and food source that can serve a variety of purposes.  There are a variety of on-line sources to acquaint you with this tree and its by-products.  We encourage you to check with your homeopathic, medical and veterinarian professionals before incorporating any new methods into your daily routines.  Anyone with sensitivity to iodine may wish to keep away from this nut as it is high in this element.Lastly…we have noticed frequent visits to our walnut trees by a red squirrel.  The nuts which were dispersed at the base of the trees that we thought were unsuitable for the curing process disappeared in short order.  Our red squirrel has a big appetite or he/she’s storing food for the upcoming winter.

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1 Comment

  1. Re the juglones. It doesnt affect grass but any chance it affects the germination of weed seeds?

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