Jack Schmidling Productions, Inc.
18016 Church Road ~ Marengo IL 60152
Phone:815 923 0031 ~ Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
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After cracking and tasting a few, we decided these were a gift from heaven. We worked out a method of removing the husks, cracking the nuts and gleaning the meat has has become a pleasant winter pastime in front of the fire.
Our story starts around August when the nuts begin to ripen. The thick outer husk is the home and food for the Walnut Husk Fly (Rhagoletis completa) larvae.
The fly lays its eggs at the stem end and when the larvae hatch, they tunnel into the husk and eat the softening tissue of the husk.
When the nuts fall to the ground, we collect the largest ones and store them in 20 gal plastic container with a lid on it. We keep it in the shop for several months until the combination of fungus and the fly larvae blacken and soften the husk to the point where it can be rubbed off. The staining power of the juice is awesome so we wear rubber gloves for this.
After washing the nuts, we put them into the dryer that we use for drying hops and leave them there until we get around to cracking them.
Cracking them is what separates the men from the boys but we worked out a system that is good exercise and fast enough for our purposes.
A wooden block with a central depression is placed in a dishpan and Marilyn sets a nut in the center and I drop a 15 lb steel bar on it. She sweeps it away and sets down another one. When my arms get tired we switch and do some more until we have a gallon or so which we bring into the house and glean at our leasure.
Once you get hooked on black walnuts, the English variety seems pretty insipid by comparison.