Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Black Walnuts Roasting Over an Open Fire?

During my trip to Maryland in October, I spent a morning picking up many black walnuts that had littered the ground in parts of our yard. I did it because our prolific trees provide us with a vast expanse of walnut seedlings each spring. We mow them down, or I pull them out by their roots, but they return each year. In an effort to be proactive, I gathered all the nuts before they could turn into weeds. I was faced with a beautiful day, an energetic body, and a lack of patience.

Christmas means kiflings (a family cookie tradition), and kiflings mean walnuts. I am reminded that there is more to a walnut than the mere possibility that it will germinate and become a weed. There is the concept that we could actually eat it. (Well, Peter can’t because of his nut allergy, but the rest of us can.) I have looked online and found a little bit about how to harvest and crack them, a little about how to cook with them, and a little about how the emerging market for black walnuts in China could mean we are living on a potential walnut mine! As a bonus, I discovered that eating them actually promotes weight loss because they are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

My goal for next year is to discover a little bit more by September so I can actually make a decent attempt at harvesting, cracking, storing, cooking, and eating our own black walnuts. (Since 65% of the wild harvest comes from Missouri, I’m counting on my Missouri friends and family to help me out here.) It seems a waste to let a bounty of food go to the squirrels every year. If you’re not up for grape stomping, but you still want to help us discover new ways of living next fall, drop by for the black walnut harvest. If you’re up for both, we may still be able to accommodate you. Each fall in several states, cities host a Black Walnut Festival. Are there any adventurous explorers out there who would like to accompany me to Ohio, West Virginia, or Missouri?

Next year at this time, stop by our house and join us for some roasted walnuts...or whatever we come up with. I can’t guarantee that you’ll find Jack Frost, yuletide choirs, or folks dressed up like Eskimos, but I can guarantee wine, warmth, food, and friendship.

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