Friday, May 16, 2014

Pricy Green Balls of Doom.

According to, "Of all the native nut trees of North America, the Black Walnut is the most valuable save only the Pecan." Now, that is quite a strong statement, and considering that I just happen to have one of these very valuable trees growing in my front yard, I thought I would tell you a little about it...

The black walnut tree, although unremarkable throughout the winter months with its rugged and slightly blackened bark, becomes quite a sight later in the spring, throughout the summer, and even into the fall with its bright green leaves turning a rich golden color.  This tree provides ample shade with its wide-arching leaflet clusters and is prized for its durable and rich-colored hardwood.  As far as I can tell there is only one downside to this majestic native tree....

The nuts.

These green and brown little torture devices have been the catalyst for a cursing-spree at the start of an early-fall walk on more than one occasion in my household.  When they start to fall there are just a few bright green fruits sitting among the fallen yellow leaves around the base of the tree trunk.  You deceivingly say to yourself, "Oh good, some nuts for the squirrels this winter, how nice!" and move on with your day.  But before you know it, what you thought was a perfectly manageable number of fruits doubles, and then triples, and you are looking at a yard that has more nuts than grass in it!  You try to shrug it off again with, "I'm sure the wild animals will collect those in no time," as some feelings of doubt start to weasel their way into your head.  Then, just as you're becoming accustomed to the piles of green fruits littering your lawn, the fruits start to darken into mushy, smelly, disgusting brown lumps of flesh rotting all over your property.  Well, apparently, this is a sign of a ripe or mature nut...appetizing, right? 

According to this guy (forager extraordinaire), the black walnut is actually quite delicious, although it is quite a project to extract the nut meat from its many layers including a potent-smelling husk that will dye your hands black, an unbelievably hard shell, and a rather complex inner membrane.  So, even though black walnuts can be found all over the United States, the amount of labor put into collecting, cleaning, and shelling these satanic nuts means that it will cost you a pretty penny to buy some black walnuts for yourself already shelled.  In fact, when you find them online, you'll pay more than twice the amount per pound of nut than you would buying some pre-packaged English Walnuts from a chain grocery store.  So next time you pass by some fallen black walnuts, maybe consider saving some to crack open on a rainy day? I know I certainly will...even though  they're still evil little buggers.


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  2. This blog post is so interesting to me because black walnuts grow on the trees in my Nana's backyard every year, but I didn't know until just now that you could actually eat these. We would never do such a thing for several reasons: 1) they smell atrocious, 2) the lawnmower crushes them, and 3) they make really good softballs, but hurt like hell when you take one for the team!

    Since I am now a professional forager (HAHA), I would love to actually try these at some point. I think that it would freak my grandparents out for the fact that you can actually eat them, but they may be open to trying it too. My grandparents always, always have some type of nuts in their house so how awesome would it be to go out back and actually get your own rather than buying them from Kroger.

    Thanks for this informative blog post, Sarah! :)