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April 06, 2011


I've never eaten black walnuts, but I'm impressed by the effort you've exerted to try them. (And having a good chuckle at the thought of turning up at a PTO meeting looking like you lost a fight with a tree. I've had similar experiences with apples and raspberries!)

I'm with you, I was shocked at much I think they smell like stinky feet. But in small quantities they have an alluring cherry-like flavor, especially in ice cream. I think it's like nutmeg--don't eat them whole, just use them for flavor.

Black walnuts seem to be one of those things that most folks either really love or really not. I'm definitely a NOT.

Who wouldn't like the idea of gathering wild nuts?

When I was growing up in the wilds of Indiana, 'walnuts' meant black walnuts. For years, I thought I disliked all walnuts. Having an English walnut for the first time was such a sweet mild treat! My mom still taints her fudge with black walnuts every Christmas, much to the delight of my husband, and many other family members.

These are great from the local farmer's market!

When I was 10, my family moved from Houston, TX to a small farm in Missouri, where there were lots of feral black walnut trees. We went through the whole rigamarole you describe, only to find the nuts were, well, kind of meh. I don't remember doing it a second time.

That said, one of the best uses that I remember is in mexican wedding cookies, where the shortbread-y richness is a good foil for the slightly funky nuts.

Also I think I saw a recommendation to run them over with a car to split the nuts (or maybe that was to remove the hulls..) Might not be any better than a hammer, but sounds like it would be fun to try, and funnier to describe.

Black Walnut husks are medicinal. If you ever harvest them again, you can put the husks in a mason jar and cover them with brandy. In a month strain off the liquid and store it in a glass container. Black Walnut is a vermifuge, i.e. it kills worms and parasites when taken internally. In low doses it has also been used to help regulate the thyroid for people who have a sluggish thyroid or hypothyroidism. Just thought you might like to know another use for the nut. Very helpful if you ever get worms!

I used to help my great grandmother gather black walnuts on our farm, but never remember trying them as a child. Before we were married, my husband-to-be gathered some from his family's farm, and spent all the time getting the meat out. I found a recipe for chocolate black walnut cake. I thought the nuts smelled bad (like you describe), but made the cake anyway. I ended up throwing up all night. Black walnuts are the only food that makes me throw up. Maybe I'm allergic? I love the trees, though.

I went through the shenanigans required to get to the point of eating black waluts, and made the same discovery you did. They're nasty!

I harvested them several years ago and my source said to spread the nut meats on a cookie sheet and place in an oven for 15 minutes at 200 degrees. That took some of the strong bitterness away, but were still fresh.

Kit: I'll try that with the remaining nuts!

Leah: I really, really WANT to like them. Not sure I do, though.

Molly: Wow, a dramatic story for a dramatic nut! So sorry you had to suffer like that after all that work. I suppose, though, if I had to choose a nut to be allergic to, I would choose that one!

Danielle: Thanks for that tidbit! The husks smell even stronger than the nuts themselves, so I'd have to have some serious worms to want to drink that concoction.

cycler: Yes, I've heard about running them over with a car to remove the husks. That's probably the most efficient way if you have tons of nuts to process. As for Mexican wedding cakes, that's a great idea. Perhaps I will try that with the remaining nuts, using only a small quantity.

Seafood Guy: I've honestly never seen them for sale anywhere around here in MA.

Holly: It definitely sounds like there is a black walnut-loving contingent in certain parts of the U.S. Maybe if I grew up with them, I'd be more partial to their charms. As it stands right now, however, there will be no more black walnuts in my fudge!

Ali: I know! Now I'm on a quest to find shagbark hickory trees instead.

Gwen: That seems to be the case. I do wonder, though, if I used them in small doses if they might grow on me eventually. I don't know why I want to like these high-maintenance nuts so much.

Annie: You have me intrigued with this cherry-like flavor of which you speak. My next two experiments are Mexican wedding cakes and minimally flavored black walnut ice cream.

adele: I know! For plants that want to spread their genetic material around, they sure don't make things easy!

I grew up with a line of black walnut trees alongside my yard. F.Y.I. you probably ought not to get any of them in the path of the lawnmower. Mom loved the stupid things but I did NOT. Oddly enough, now that I am all grown up and never have to put up with black walnut laden banana bread again, I kind of want to try them again. Even though I remember hating the taste at the time, the flavor that I remember appeals to me now. Or maybe I am just crazy, there is always that possibility. Probability. I do remember that one time we used those husks to tie-dye t-shirts because we also noticed the staining capabilities you mentioned.

if you let them cure to long they start to have a bitter taste. otherwise the flavor is more buttery and delicious

they go well with fudge and breads

i even tried a baklava recipe using them instead of pecans

I stumbled upon your post after putting black walnuts in my oatmeal. Yuck! I too thought they would taste like walnuts. I bought some chopped ones at the dollar store. Thanks for letting us know how much work they were to make eating ready!

I'm 77 today and, like they say, you're never too old to learn something new. When I was a child black walnuts were called bitter walnuts and we were warned not to eat them. Of course we did. One bite and we were gagging and spitting. About three years ago my brother-in-law went into the woods and dug up two trees, one for each of us. I said those are no good, they're bitter walnuts. He said no, they're black walnuts. Lo and behold we are both right and the tree he planted here is loaded with nuts this year.

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