I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last blog entry. The past couple of months have flown by out here on the river. From preparing for winter to raking up piles of leaves to baking bread, It seems as though I keep pretty busy. Not to mention taking care of 3 cats, 3 chickens and Ginger Snap! The Chickens are getting so big now. They’ve lost their chirps and are now clucking. They are so comical when we let them roam around the property. The other day Millie got her first worm. She was so proud of herself! She did not want to share with the other 2 chicks, not at all! We are thinking about adding a miniature goat to our backyard farm. they are so adorable! Most of our scraps go to the animals or the composter but a goat would eat up a lot of the old veggies and flowers.
One of the chores I have taken up is the processing of the walnuts that grow on our two trees. We have a black walnut tree that didn’t give us much yield this year (it sure gave us lots of leaves to pick up). The other tree is an English walnut tree. We are still getting nuts falling from that tree.
Harvesting walnuts is something I never dreamed about doing but I sure have learned about the process these past few months. We have containers of English walnuts in various stages sitting under the awning, drying in the window and on the shelves. After the last storm, I went out and picked up another bin of them, ready to start the hulling all over!
The flavor of these walnuts is so fresh and good. It’s great to have them ready for baking at a moments notice. One of my favorite treats is to get a scoop of vanilla ice cream and top it with a little homemade jam and fresh chopped English walnuts.
So, you ask, how do you process? First of all, the walnuts begin to fall in late August. At this time, most of the husks are still green but are starting to crack and change color. A lot of them have walnut husk fly larvae on them but this does not hurt the nut inside the shell. It took me a little while to get over that part of the process! Start gathering the walnuts and removing the husk. This is rather messy so I have some heavy duty rubber gloves I use for processing black and English walnuts! Place the husked nut in a large bucket of water. Soak the walnut in the shell for a couple of hours, changing the water several times. Pour the used water in the gutter or dirt, not around plants or wells as there is a slight toxicity to the black tarry stuff that surrounds the shell.
After the walnuts soak, brush off the remaining tarry substance with a small wire brush while dipping the nut in the bucket of water. Once all the black is off, place onto drying sheets and set out in the sun or in a window that gets sun for several days. If you can’t leave in the sun, place in the oven without turning it on for several days.
Crack one open to check for moisture. You will find that cured nuts have a bit of oiliness but are dry when you bite them. Store untracked nuts in ziplock bags. Store cracked and shelled walnuts in air tight container. If storing for longer periods, store in the freezer. I will be adding various recipes I have found to use walnuts in!