The Grow System
Our back yard is covered in black walnuts. The previous owners didn't maintain them so there is little meat. But the shells ground to powder is a great exfoliant.
@judsoncarroll4 thank you for such an extensive information about walnut.
It is highly appreciated and used here. I always have a good storage of dried leaves and plenty of nuts. We preserve nuts in honey, but there is not much to preserve as we eat them a lot. I also add walnut leaves or oak leaves to my fermented cucumbers. That keeps them crunchy.
I add walnuts to my baked apples: raisins, walnuts, cinnamon and honey. Delicious.
And on top of the nuts' food value and medicinal uses, the nut hulls give one of the most permanent natural dyes on any natural fibers--all in the brown range, lighter shades from English walnut and hickories, almost yellowish-tan from pecans, anything from tan to near black from black walnuts, depending on the fiber, whether the husks are green or have turned black, and the process you use. It's one of the few natural dyes to remain colorfast even through washing machines and modern detergents.
Each season the black walnuts fall, they are gathered and stored in the basement to get cracked open, and then baked into goodies, or eaten.
Don't forget ice cream!
I need to get into fibers and dying!
My favorite recipe is to grind walnuts and pork together, with dried green apples and spices, and make sausage... sooooooooo good!
Could be fewer nuts equal more medicine.
@judsoncarroll4 Natural dyes are totally addictive; once you get into them, you just have to find out every possible color you can get from every plant. And I forgot butternuts above--wouldn't they also be in this group? The nuts are as yummy as the others, I don't know about the medicinal properties, but supposedly this was the dye used for Confederate uniforms during the War Between the States. For my part though, all I have ever been able to get from butternuts is a yellowish-tan, much like pecans. Can't figure out how or even if they really got grey from butternuts.
Check Resources of The Southern Fields and Forests on archive.org. It is an incredible book, really. Basically, most Confederate troops had no uniforms at all. When South Carolina seceded, the other southern state legislatures followed suit, but there was no plan, no organization and no standing army. Many folks didn't even know a war was on until Federal troops began marching south and the truth is, most southerners fought simply because an invading army was burning their crops and shooting at them. It was mostly a militia effort, hunting rifles and any uniform that could be put together that wasn't dark blue. Most of the real uniforms I've seen, in museums were more light brown. Bullets/musket balls were rough and home made. It was mostly just making do. So, butternuts, pignuts, mockernuts, etc likely did become both food and dye.
@judsoncarroll4 No doubt you are right--all the walnut family give colorfast dyes that were reputed to discourage fleas, lice and such vermin, and they are easy, pretty much fool-proof dyes which don't need extra mordants to set because of all the tannin in them; so they're a good choice for a home-made uniform; Folks probably just used whichever variety happened to be growing nearby. But "Butternut" was a common nickname for Confederate troops that turns up in the old diaries and memoirs. Probably just one of those labels that somebody came up with as a joke and then it stuck....
But you did just send me off on a whole other tangent just now....hadn't heard, or at least didn't remember hearing of mockernuts till you mentioned it. Oh well, must be a Deep South tree....But went searching, and no, it is another common hickory in Missouri too, and should be growing around here. Most of the hickories in my woods are shagbarks, but there are a couple that aren't, that I have not identified, So now I need to go look again. Maybe that's what they are. and a whole new tree to learn! The discussions on these forums are just so darned much fun!
I love the idea of natural dying! Thank you all for sharing such great information!
Oh yeah, we have shagbark and shellbark too... lots of hickories. One thing to which I can attest, the mockernut hickory is aptly named - those things are almost impossible to shell!
@judsoncarroll4 Whatever my unidentified hickories are, I'll probably never have the chance to find out how hard they are to shell. Hickories seem to be the squirrels' favorite nut around here. I can usually gather all the black walnuts I want because there are so many trees and squirrels generally leave those till last. If I start early and really keep at it, I can probably make a fair haul of hazelnuts and acorns, though it's always a race with the critters. But I've only found a dozen or so hickory trees scattered through my woods, and the squirrels have every one of them staked out. All I ever get are the nut hulls they leave behind. I think I've maybe found 6 or 7 hickory nuts total in all my years of hunting them....
Wow, I can gather buckets full! I also scout those trees for squirrel hunting. We don't have many wild walnuts or pecans here, but plenty of hickories. I've read that if you soak them in water overnight (maybe longer), they are easier to shell. I think you can add something to the water to make the shells more brittle... but I can't recall what... maybe vinegar or baking soda? I think this year I'll harvest a bucket full green and try using hickories for some of the old British "walnut catsup" recipes. The nuts have to be green enough to push a hat pin through. BTW, you can also tap the trees for syrup, like maple.
@judsoncarroll4 I didn't know you could get syrup from hickory sap, might have to try that. I have made the so-called hickory bark syrup from the shagbark hickory a couple times. It's tasty, but it's also kind of a cheat. You still need some kind of sugar to use as a base; you're really just flavoring the syrup with the hickory bark.
I've never tried using green nuts for anything, but those walnut catsup recipes look intriguing. You'd have to pick the nuts off the trees early for that, right? By the time they fall, they are probably too far along. How do you know when to pick them for green nut recipes?
I don't know... I guess I'll try the hat pin method
We have a Black Walnut tree but have not harvested from it. Each year other things take priority. Now it can move up the list. Shelling a Black Walnut is another story...
If anyone knows of an easy way of shelling black walnuts or hickories, I'd love to know!
I bought a heavy metal gadget many years ago for cracking my black walnuts. Works like a charm and has held up over the years. I went searching for something like it online just now, and this was the closest I could find. Looks lighter weight than mine, but same general idea....
As for getting the hulls off the nuts so you can crack them, that's a whole other problem. Folks around here claim you can lay them on the driveway and drive your vehicle over them, but that didn't work well for me when I tried it. Besides, I want the hulls in good condition for other uses. So I'd really like to find a good way to get the hulls off too!
I hadn't been able to find black walnut ice cream while living in western Washington and in Idaho. Hadn't had any since 2006. When I moved back to Missouri in June, one of the first things I bought was a carton of black walnut ice cream! (And I've had several since.)
LOL, so true. The people who lived here before us had a hickory shed just for shelling. They would sit out there at night and have a bonfire outside the door and shell nuts for hours and tell tall tales. They also had a vice to help with the more stubborn ones
@judsoncarroll4 Love "Medicine Herb hiding in Plain View".
Wish I could enjoy the hickory shed, shelling nuts and listening to tall tales!
I made walnut hull tinctures this year for the first time.
What did you use it for?
I love walnuts but they can be histamine-producing, so not necessarily good in excess for people with histamine intolerance or MCAS.
Is it the tannins in your walnut leaves or oak leaves that keeps your fermented cucumbers crunchy? I've heard something similar about using grape leaves in ferments, but thus far I have only used green tea leaves to keep the crunch! It seems to work well.
So many more medicinal properties to walnuts than I was aware of! The wonders of nature... so awesome! I have a good friend with a black walnut tree on her land, that she doesn't care much about, so I will have to share this treasure trove of information with her. Thank you!
Glad to help!