Updated: Jan 21, 2022
I'm posting episode 3 first and working backwards in our walnut harvest process.
This picture shows the detailed difference between the English Walnut (above) and the native Black Walnut (below). The Black Walnut has a much harder shell than the English Walnut, but that doesn't mean it is impossible to crack and harvest the nut meat. We watched a YouTube video or two on how to make sure we weren't mushing the meat and we able to get the most out of it. We learned that the shell has two seams, one more obvious than the other, but it you can locate them it is easy to crack the shell into quarters.
You need something like a rock, we used a cinder block, on which to put the nuts when you tap them with a hammer. The nuts have a seam that is obvious to see, running around the circumference of the nut and another less obvious seam running at 90 degrees to the other seam. They form an X and if you're careful it will separate into quarters. Tap it along the seams until you hear a slight cracking sound. Do this all around the seams, so that the shell loosens everywhere and will pop apart when it is ready. If you can learn the technique, it is much easier to get the nuts out of the cavernous shell.
We had a lot of failed attempts, but were still able to harvest enough nuts to make our Oatmeal Walnut Patties for our Thanksgiving vegetarian entree. I finally got good at tapping the seams and I'm sure by the time I process the 10 lbs of nuts I harvested, I'll be a pro!
The wire snips are wonderful at breaking any nut walls away so that you can pull large chunks of walnut out without breaking or smooshing them. They act just like squirrel teeth, I think.
Compared to an English Walnut, the Black Walnut is much more challenging to crack, but the Black Walnut rewards you with a unique sweet, dark, velvety flavor. It would make a great extract, or would be good to use for baklava or some kind of vanilla flavored cookies. It's hard to compare the flavor with anything because it is unique.
I hope you have success with these wonderful gifts from nature! Happy Harvesting!