Sunday, October 12, 2014
Sunday Reading - Walnut Wonderland
Around here this time of year if Walnuts were worth something we would all be rich. They are literally falling off the trees like rain and it can sometimes be dangerous to stand under the big ones cause those nuts can gather up some speed let me tell you. Thankfully the green outside husk is usually beginning to get a bit squishy now so they do have a bit of give to em when they make contact.
Walnuts would be one of those crops much like beans. You gather em up and then wait for the long Winter nights of boredom to crack em open and get at the good stuff. The amount of protein, anti-oxidants and other nutrients inside the meat would actually make the effort of cracking them open worth while in a collapse situation when you could lounge by the fire and work on em.
As nature would have it that's pretty much the way they need to be harvested anyway because after collecting them you need to let them dry out and cure for a bit before the inside meat sets up properly anyway. Usually a couple of months.
Before getting to the actual nut however you must remove the outside husk which starts out green and then turns black as it rots away. I know there are places that buy walnuts and have these machines that will remove the husks but I have never heard of a private citizen owning one.
My Grandfather loved to collect Walnuts, de-hull them and then crack em open all Winter. Usually he made me and my brother pick em up out of the yard then after they dried a bit more and cured he would run over them in his driveway using his old Corvair (he said the little car did a better job without ruining the nut inside). Later on he devised a contraption that amounted to a short section of pipe mounted through a 2x4 that allowed him to place the Walnut on the pipe opening and hit it with a mallet. This drove the Walnut through the pipe and removed most of the hull as it went through. Sometimes it would get stuck so he had a dowel he would push it the rest of the way through with. The 2x4 he would just set up between two sawhorses and have a bucket under the pipe so the nut would fall into it. He would remove the hulls of a bucketful and then take em inside to crack open and remove the meat as he watched television.
My Grandmother would then use the nuts for baking and other stuff. Sometimes she would even grind up the nut meat into a type of flour and add to things she was making.
There are still a few oldtimers around here that harvest the nuts that way. In fact I give a bushel of them to my Dad's partner in crime each year for that very reason.
In interesting thing about Walnuts is that my Dad used to pick em up and sell them. Back in the 50's he got $10.00 for every 100 pounds of Walnuts (minus the hull which they removed when he turned em in). That's a lot of Walnuts let me tell you. I would estimate about half a pickup load with the hulls still on. These days you can still collect em up and sell them but the going rate is $14.00 per 100 pounds. I guess inflation doesn't effect the labor part of the Walnut market.
You can see why I don't bother to collect Walnuts up to sell although a few people around here still do. I collect em up right now only to get them out of my yard. Currently I only have one small Walnut tree in the yard to deal with. The top picture was last year's collection and the bottom picture is this year's. If the nut production keeps growing at the rate it is in a few years I will have to come up with a better plan that just picking em up by hand.
Then again if things keep slowly declining the way they are I might end up being one of those oldtimers sitting around cracking Walnuts all Winter. That is after the beans are taken care of.
Maybe I should make one of those de-hulling things like Gramps had?
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!