Black Walnut

Now is the time for harvesting and processing black walnut (Juglans nigra of the Juglandaceae family). The green hull will go into organic cold pressed olive for a therapeutic anti-fungal oil-come-salve and the musky-flavored nut meat will go into our mouths. Prized for its wood in furniture-making, this large, native Eastern North American tree can be found growing in USDA zones 4-9. Now is the time for gathering these fallen fruits. Free Food & Free Medicine!

A basket of black walnuts gathered last week from the ground under the tree.

A basket of black walnuts gathered last week from the ground under the tree.

Processing black walnuts: the crime scene.

Processing black walnuts: the crime scene.

The green hull removed from the nut shell with a simple paring knife. This part will be used for making medicine. BTW, the green hull begins to brown as soon as it is cut open and comes into contact with the air.

The green hull removed from the nut shell with a simple paring knife. This part will be used for making medicine. BTW, the green hull begins to brown as soon as it is cut open and comes into contact with the air.

The black walnuts after their green hulls have been removed. At this point they can be spread out and left to dry to be eaten in the future or they can be eaten right away...... 

The black walnuts after their green hulls have been removed. At this point they can be spread out and left to dry to be eaten in the future or they can be eaten right away...... 

Technique: cracking the nut open with a stone. If you want to get fancy, friends of mine who love eating black walnuts own the Hunt's Black Walnut Nut Cracker, available from Northern Nut Growers Association. FYI, even with this tool, shelling the nuts is a slow, meditative affair. An even fancier option is the World's Best Nut Cracker  — heavier duty, more expensive, and faster output.

Technique: cracking the nut open with a stone. If you want to get fancy, friends of mine who love eating black walnuts own the Hunt's Black Walnut Nut Cracker, available from Northern Nut Growers Association. FYI, even with this tool, shelling the nuts is a slow, meditative affair. An even fancier option is the World's Best Nut Cracker  — heavier duty, more expensive, and faster output.

A close up of a cracked black walnut: the white flesh is the edible part and needs to be removed from the shell.

A close up of a cracked black walnut: the white flesh is the edible part and needs to be removed from the shell.

Stone for cracking; nut shell remnants (to compost); and nut meat to eat.

Stone for cracking; nut shell remnants (to compost); and nut meat to eat.

The yellowish-white black walnut meat ready to eat. Can be used instead of other nuts in cooking.

The yellowish-white black walnut meat ready to eat. Can be used instead of other nuts in cooking.

Don't forget to wear gloves when working with black walnuts as they have a strong dye that will stain your hands; the staining lasts up to three weeks.

Don't forget to wear gloves when working with black walnuts as they have a strong dye that will stain your hands; the staining lasts up to three weeks.