I love nuts of any kind and the prices in the store right now just kill me. So when I do find them cheap I enjoy eating every little piece and squirrel away as much as way as I can.
My friend calls me up last week and asked if I wanted to get some free walnuts. It took me a whole .005 seconds to say “YES!” Christine pulls up in her hot rod (aka high mileage sedan) and we cruise to a nearby town and meet a gentleman with a walnut orchard. Our host was a riot and I hope I have that much energy when I am 81! This guy has a great racket going. We pick whatever walnuts we want, give him half, and call it good. He sorts and dries his half to sell and we take ours home. Winner winner of an idea don’t ya think? Anyways, he handed us these Nut Wizards that looked like a whisk on a 4 foot pole. I had never seen one before but even I could manage this baby. All you do is roll it on the ground and it picks up all the nuts for you. No bending over required. (I have mentioned I am lazy, haven’t I?)
We ended up picking twelve, 5 gallon buckets worth. Not a bad haul for a couple hours work. We decided next time the girls are all coming with us because not only was it easy, but they couldn’t bruise the fruit like they did our apples. Hey, don’t knock slave labor!
Many of the nuts were already hulled, others needed a little work. When walnuts grow they are surrounded by this green husk. Once they fall on the grown, the husk begins to turn black. These husks are easy to remove, but one thing to remember is they are used to create dyes, so I suggest wearing gloves when doing so. This should be sone as soon as possible after picking your walnuts.
Once the nuts are hulled, place them in a bucket and cover with warm water. Using your hand, agitate and stir those nuts till the water turns black. Repeat until the water stays clear. This removes the coating left on the nuts from the husk.
Once the nuts are clean, drain and lay them on a cookie sheet and allow them to dry. If the wether is nice, you can place them outside. Smallville rains all of October so that wasn’t going to happen, so I moved onto option 2, the oven.
The first batch I washed, I dried the suggested way I had found on youtube and I feel it cooked the nuts and was not happy with the results. The idea was to leave them in the oven for 1-2 hours and I think it was a far too long. The second batch I only left in long enough for the shells to dry, then removed the cookie sheets from the oven. I turned the oven to warm and kept the oven door slightly ajar. I also used my handy dandy toaster oven for 2 small trays. (I love my toaster oven) In less than 10 minutes all the trays were dry enough to remove.
For long term storage, they went into a cardboard box. For the next week I will keep them in my kitchen so I can stir them up every day. This is to ensure that they really are dry and will keep.
Now I certainly don’t intend to crack nuts every time I want to bake this winter. That is where my slave labor force comes in. Guess what they will be doing while watching Netflix? Shelled nuts will go into quart sized Ziplock bags and straight to the freezer. Now I just need to find a use for all those shells…….