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.