Russ was at the farm chopping and splitting wood this past weekend. He didn’t send a photo; it’s hard to do selfies while swinging an ax. Fortunately, I had a picture from a previous chopping session. To those, like myself, who merely sit by the fire, it’s a good reminder of the work that goes into making that possible. In the event of a bleak winter storm, we’re prepared to survive for weeks.
Walnut Gathering Time
It’s also black walnut time in the Ozarks. Nature makes you work for every bit of nut meat you claw from those shells. The old saying: “It’s a tough nut to crack” must have come from oldtimers struggling to get to the inside of a black walnut.
This time of year, it’s not unusual to see green-shelled walnuts lining a driveway so cars can run over them for a week, or more, to break the hard outer shell. The remains are left to dry before the inner hull is cracked to retrieve the nut. Cracking walnuts requires gloves to keep your fingers from turning the same color as your favorite walnut table. The stain will eventually wear off, but it’s impossible to remove from clothing.
For those in the Rolla area with more black walnuts than they know what to do with, you can sell them at Stanley’s Garden Center in St. James for $15 a hundred pounds. The buying station is just one of the 215 offered in eleven states by Hammon’s Walnut Company of Stockton. The pay is based on the weight after the outer hull is removed. The price jumps considerably by the time they get processed and into those tiny cellophane packages.
Hammon sells their black walnuts online for $13.99 lb.; in the shell for $6.99 lb.; and their black walnut oil for $7.99 per 8.4 oz. bottle. If you want to gather and crack your own black walnuts, here’s a good pictorial.
Black Walnuts vs. English Walnuts
Do black walnuts differ from their English cousins? Indeed, they do. Black walnuts grow wild, while the English variety is grown in orchards and have a much milder flavor. Black walnuts have a thicker shell, the nut comes out only in pieces and has a bold, earthy taste.
With 70% of production worldwide, Missouri is considered the #1 producer of black walnuts.