A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Black Walnuts - Part 2

Having woken up with very sore hands, arms, shoulder and back, I decided I really did need to find another way to husk these treasures without quite so much abuse to my system. (If you missed reading Part 1, here it is.) I had read about people driving over them, but worried about that crushing the actual nutmeats and ruining my labors. At this point, I was absolutely up for the risk... so when my mom offered her limestone driveway as a place to husk the nuts "smarter, not harder," I went for it! Shane loaded the second 100+ pounds into the truck and off I went!

Do you see the white creepy crawly visitor coming out of the husk of the walnut? That's a husk fly larvae. They live their entire lives in the husk and cause no damage to the nut itself. They are gross, and really work to soften the husk, which I found just made it easier for me to remove (once I got over them being so yucky). :-)

When I arrived at Mom's, she and I got right to work. We spread one tub out on the driveway and lined up the truck to run them over. I made one pass, then checked to be sure I wasn't smashing them to smithereens. They looked good, so I went forward and backward until I was confident I had applied pressure to all of the nuts we'd spread on the limestone.

Mom moved them around with a rake to be sure and I passed once or twice more over areas that didn't look as smashed as others.

This was MUCH lighter work that the hand smashing I had spent the entire day before doing. She and I set up on the driveway and I set to work removing the husks. Mom decided she didn't mind if I left the husks right on the stone, so we didn't collect them.

I tossed the husked nuts (still in the shell) onto a big plastic mat that Mom has (used to be a liner for the back end of a minivan or something) so they could dry a bit and wait for cleaning. The wind was ferocious, so she moved the truck to block the wind so we could sit in the sun without the chill.

I decided against the second layer of gloves this day, opting for thicker kitchen gloves (meant for washing dishes) that would allow me to feel what I was doing better than the leather over latex the day before. The work went faster than it had and I was pleased with our change in method.

We washed and washed and washed the first batch and then went into the house to warm up a bit. After a hot cup of coffee and a bit of a visit, we headed back out and dumped the second tub on the driveway in a spot that felt less windy. We repeated the process again. About 10 minutes before I finished, I noticed a tiny rip in the thumb of my glove and laughed and what a funny shaped little stain it would make on my thumb.

After finishing husking the last walnut, I removed my gloves while Mom set about washing them. That's when I discovered my actual stain. It was not in the funny little shape of the rip in my glove, but my whole thumb, including the nail. Oops!

We worked on the nuts five weeks ago yesterday, and although my skin has returned to its normal color, the nail is apparently permanently stained and is simply growing out.

Next, we need to put together our new nutcracker and work on opening some of the shells to determine if they have dried out enough to crack, or if they need a little more time. The idea is to let them cure long enough to release some moisture (making the shells more brittle for access) and to allow the nut meats to shrink away from the shell (making them easier to remove).  Hopefully this weekend we can get into that part of the work. It'd be nice to have walnuts to share at Christmas in our gift baskets!

I'll write about shelling them in Part 3!

No comments:

Post a Comment