The American black walnuts are now raining down like manna from heaven! Heavy, painful, treacherous manna with the power to deal out a concussion or a sprained ankle, so look alive. Here is my back yard walnut tree. This year, Pandemic Year 2, is the year I'm finally going to try processing my own black walnuts. My family is back on near-lockdown until our daughter can be fully vaccinated, and my kitchen renovation is nearly done, so there's never been a better time and might never be again.
Of course, I will give the squirrels plenty of chances to fill their own pantries between my human harvests.
One of my dearest, oldest friends, who used to work with me at a cookie shop when we were teenagers and who visited during this year's early summer break from high viral spread, gave me the most adorable cookie cutters I've ever seen--shaped like squirrels that can hold a real nut in their arms in the middle of the cookie. I want to use my back yard black walnuts to bake some hilarious squirrel nut cookies this fall, and I want to put some more black walnuts on top of pies baked with my front yard orchard's apples.
I've been dreaming about harvesting my own nuts for a long time, as demonstrated by the retro blog post below! But life always got in the way of this lengthy, complicated, labor-intensive, and messy homesteader project. But now is the time! Next week, I'll follow my own advice from the 2000s and try out...
Stuff You Can Do with American Black Walnuts
- Make a liqueur called "nocino" from the green fruits.
- Harvest, hull, dry, and shell them for baking. (See the wikihow page on different ways to do this.)
- Make ink or wood stain from the mashed and cooked hulls. (See the same wikihow page.)
- Or do like I did and post your nuts (hurr hurr) on Freecyle and let the neighborhood folks with old-timey nut skills battle over your harvest and clean up your yard for free. Sweet! I just had a few people over at my house, including a grandma with a passel of little grandchildren, picking up and hauling away about 50 gallons of fresh walnuts. It was so cute watching the kids gather the big green hulls--kind of like an Easter egg hunt! Their grandma gets to deal with the mess of walnut tannins, my yard gets cleaned up, and all that good food doesn't go to waste. Win, win, win!
If you have a walnut tree in your yard, try one of these free-or-cheap methods of dealing with them. Sometimes good things do grow on trees.
Happy harvesting! (Or giving away!)