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Black Walnut Wisdom

Black Walnut LeavesBlack Walnut trees provide fine wood for furniture of veneers, produce edible nuts, and serve as ornamental shade plantings. Black Walnut Shell
The fruit is a drupelike nut, with an outer leathery husk and an inner hard and furrowed stone, or nut.
Now, about those walnuts. . .The little green tennis balls come off the tree and when they hit a roof, they hit hard enough to sound like a gunshot. But walnuts are yummy good, right? And here we have an ample supply of them.

Black Walnuts in HusksWell, have you ever dealt with a home-grown crop of black walnuts? First off, they come in this green, nearly impenetrable husk. Most country people recommend driving over the nuts with your car in order to loosen up the husk. But not us. . .

When we drove over the hulls, we ended up with walnut splooge so we found a better way. Even the alternative to whack at the hulls with a hammer was too messy. We let the walnut hulls cure only until they can be dented with a thumb (2-3 days after landing on the ground is usually sufficient), then the hulls are hand-pulled off the stone or nut, being careful to protect your skin, as black walnuts produce an indelible stain. The hulls should not be left on the shell any longer than necessary as that causes the nut meats to have a strong taste. Don't worry about damaging the nut shell no matter what method is used to remove the husks since those that fall on roadways are rarely broken. . .just pushed into the ground by traffic.
Black Walnut nutmeatsBlack Walnuts are not only tasty, thay are good for you, too. They're low in saturated fats, and have no cholesterol. A complete nutrition description can be found on the nutrition page.

Black Walnuts are high in fiber, low in sodium, and contain about 14.1 grams of protein per 100 grams. They can easily be combined with other ingredients to yield a complete protein quotient. Black Walnuts contain 70% polyunsaturated fatty acids, 12% monounsaturated and only 12% saturated.

Black Walnut SizesThe nutmeats have a strong, rich, nutty flavor and can be used in any recipe that calls for nuts, but unless you're featuring the black walnut's flavor, use them sparingly, or they will overpower everything else. See our recipes page for both main dish and dessert entres.

Iowa's Black Walnuts are in the Royal Walnut family shown at right. Between Iowa cold winters and hot summers, parasites are not a problem. The worms that sometimes attack Black Walnuts in more moderate climates instead prefer our abundant and easy to bore into Acorns on our plentiful Oak trees. Usually where you find a stand of mature Black Walnut trees in Iowa, you also find them intermingled with mature Oak trees.

Green walnuts (immature Black walnuts) are sour but edible, and an ideal ingredient for pickles and jams. During the 17th and 18th centuries, English cookbooks featured an abundance of recipes for pickling both black and green walnuts. The very immature green husk of a Black walnut is also edible, though really sour.

Walnuts ripen in the fall, and as they mature, the green hulls soften and become yellowish. The fruit is ready for harvest when you can dent the hull with your thumb. Crops can vary considerably from year to year, and walnuts can be better producers when another tree is nearby so that cross-pollination occurs.

Be sure to visit the Tree Trivia page for facts on how to plant, where, what to expect, and preferred types of soils if you plan to start your own Black Walnut tree stand.

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Updated 3/5/06   •   Validated 2/25/06