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« green on green. fruits on trees. disguise. | Main | Culinary Positions: The Interview part 1 »

24 August 2006

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Oh my God! Black walnut ice cream (from the Silver Grill) was my favorite flavor when I was a child. I adore them. They're mysteriously flavored, rich. Yes, hard to open (we used to use heavy rocks on the sidewalk and then pry out the meats with one of my grandmother's big hairpins). A cousin who lives on a farm in Illinois curses them because they fill up her driveway in the fall(when they fall) and they have to rake up all the smashed shells. I order nutmeats from Arkansas to use in the winter. And I once came upon a small harvest that had fallen into the parking lot of a wine tasting room in Sonoma, just lying there. Can't wait to hear more from you, and get recipes -- my grandmother made black walnut divinity candy; we had black walnut/cream cheese sandwiches; old recipes for dark, rich cakes used them, too. Thanks for the memories, Shuna.

Because the trees and crushed black walnuts on my grandfathers farm are a smell that I conjured up some 25 years after last being there just reading your post. Magic of summer on the farm, definitely worth the effort.

PS Forgot to mention that the shells of black walnuts were used to make natural dyes for fabrics, a rich brown. Alum was added to make it a more golden hue. I have a quilt from my great-grandmother of cotton dyed this way after the Civil War.

We had a black walnut tree in our driveway. It was messy and it reeked. The hulls do make a very nice dye, though, when dried.

I can remember my mother pulling up any little pop-up black walnut trees courtesy of the neighbor's tree. She used to fuss about them being so messy. We always argued with her because we loved to try to smash the nuts open and my grandfather loved black walnut ice cream. I always found the smell offensive but memorable.

Black walnut ice cream was my grandmother's favorite. When I was little, my great-grandmother always used black walnuts in her fudge, divinity, persimmon cookies and any other darned thing she wanted walnuts in because she had a huge tree in the yard and they were free. They taste a lot stronger, a little more bitter and are much smaller than the English walnuts that are commercially sold. Some people are slightly allergic to them and get sores and/or a "raw" sensation in their mouths from eating them. They are also much harder to crack, with thicker shells.

I had to pick up lots of bags of black walnuts when I was a kid to pay for my horse's feed bill and I hated every minute of it. Every fall my fingers were semi-permanently stained dark walnut brown.

Oh, I forgot to mention, I'll send you some, if you want. They grow wild up here. As for shelling them, the best solution is a hammer and a brick. Seriously.

I'm fashionably late to the party. But there's a memory of the dusty September Napa heat. Not the kind that you get on the posh decks of the wineries, the vineyards are closer but not quite there yet, they don't have the equal parts dust and freshly mown grass with just a touch of cow dung, reminders of what the Valley was before the rest of the world discovered it.

My great-grandfather was still alive, and was directing various cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, neighbors, and siblings as we stood around a loud, noisy rotating monstrosity. We crowded closer, though, because with every revolution it spit out husked walnuts and cool water.

Because wild black walnuts are plentiful in Maryland, and because other walnuts are not, I use immature (young, whole, green) black walnuts to make vin de noix, a Provencal homemade fortified wine. I also love them in baked goods, but I have concluded, sadly that I am unlikely to be able to process them myself. I used to be able to buy them very reasonably at Costco, but now my best source is ebay. Someday, maybe, I will have access to a concrete mixer. I'm told that putting them in a concrete mixer with some sort of abrasive is the best way to remove the green covering. After that, you still have the hard shell to deal with, and for that task, I concur with the earlier hammer suggestion.

I live in Western Canada, and have English walnuts but would like to know how I'd get a mock walnut taste in cookery

My Husband and I just discovered these things that had nuts inside. We being Northerners and moving to the South, we had No Idea!
Last year i made a carrot cake with the nuts and this year we had so many we did not know what to do. Will someone tell me how to make Black Walnut Ice Cream? any suggestions .... And will someone please tell me the easiest way to OPEN THE WALNUTS? < HELP!!!

Hello Claire, Glad to know you've gone to the trouble of dealing with Black Walnuts first hand. I wrote a whole post on how to make homemade ice cream--- if you click on that link it will take you to instructions and a basic recipe.

As for opening Black Walnuts: wear goggles and use a heavy hammer. Some people run over them with their cars but even that can be dangerous. Use extreme caution as their shells are small, tight, and hard. ~ Shuna

Is it o.k. to just eat them raw? That sounds like such a stupid question!!! I want to put them in chili spiced chocolate and make a bark. I use regular walnuts all the time,but I've never had black walnuts. Thanks for the info.

hello Ashley, Yes, of course you may eat them raw! They are regular walnuts, but with a very different flavour, once you get to them. Have you tried the Haagen-Dasz black walnut ice cream? That will give you some insight to how different they are in taste... ~ Shuna

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