It’s 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’ve come from old-timers 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.
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. The wild ones have a thicker shell. The nut comes out only in pieces and has a bold, earthy taste.
If you want to gather and crack your own black walnuts, here’s a good pictorial.
With 70% of production worldwide, Missouri is considered the #1 producer of black walnuts.
A quick look and I thought these were ripening figs. I’ll bet these Missouri walnuts are just as delicious. We have walnut trees at the barn but I need to take a closer look to see if they’re black walnuts or the English variety. I’m betting on black walnuts and i’ll see if I can get the horses’ hooves to crack them for me.
Amanda Kelley says
When I was a child in Jefferson County, my family would gather them to make buttered, black walnut ice cream. Delicious. We made homemade ice cream multiple times a year. This was our winter ice cream for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Freda Shen says
Black walnut ice cream sounds divine. I would never have thought of it. Thanks, Amanda. What a fitting seasonal ice cream for the holidays.