Walnuts are protected by a semi hard green shell about ½ inch thick. When they fall from the tree the shell slowly softens and turns black. Cleaning the nuts with your bare hands can stain them GOOD!
I remember talking to a farmer who said he had the solution to shelling the walnut. On a real dry day when the ruts in his road were hard he would dump the walnuts in the rut and run over them several times with his truck or tractor. Then using a garden rake separate the hard nuts from broken covers. Why nature felt the toughest nut I know needed that much protection, I have no idea.
Then the fun part cracking and picking them. Just a few minutes ago I cracked 6 nuts that I had ran over on our paved road to deshell them. I used the vise and a small screw driver. It just wasn’t as much fun as it was when the whole family did the deed. Someone would crack them on the hearth with a hammer and we would talk and joke as we picked those rascals (I think the bobby-pin was the best picker). About the same fun as when the family picked black berries.
My favorite sweet treat in Valdese, NC was a Chocolate Nut Sunday at the ‘Rat Hole’.. It was made with black walnuts in syrup, vanilla ice cream with chocolate poured over it. It was served in a 16 oz waxed Dixie cup, not a dish. MMMMM good.
We moved and on occasion I made the mistake of ordering a walnut Sunday. The nuts down here were always English Walnuts. I like the English walnut, but not as well as the Black.
If I can’t find a better way to crack and pick the black walnuts, I won’t try it again. I cannot imagine picking enough black walnuts to make a walnut pie or cake. LOL Any ideas?
PS: I am sure the squirrels had just as soon not share. Happy Halloween