Monday, October 24, 2011

Walnut season

For many folks, hard times are all the time, especially in the eastern Missouri Ozarks. A dollar can be hard to come by, so it's not uncommon, perhaps even necessary for entire families to work together to accomplish an incredibly difficult job for a little cash.

It's black walnut harvest season in Missouri. The nut hulls are mostly windblown, which makes the job relatively safe for children. Locals gather the green seed hulls wherever they can. State and national forest rangers tend to turn their backs and allow "nutters" to gather what they will from the parks. It's what comes next that defines work.

Gatherers remove the green outer hull, fairly quickly before the hull discolors and sours the nut inside one of nature's hardest nuts, all without harming the inner fruit . A lot of methods accomplish this work, some suggest driving over the shells with a truck, some say soften the nut in water, other suggest a corn sheller. Any way you chose is going to be difficult, the green hull stains everything it touches, and the lingering aroma, likened to sour onions takes days to fade from your hands and clothing.

In the US there are 2 commercial processors of black walnuts, one in California, one in Missouri, each with a number of hullers (receiving stations) scattered around the growing region. After filling your truck with hulled nuts, and delivering to the nearest huller, at this year's price you may earn a penny per nut.

A very hard earned penny.



Martha Scott said...

We had a black walnut tree in our back yard growing up -- and that was the nut my mother cooked with. I am fond of black walnuts for their flavor is the flavor of my childhood and I am familiar with that stain!!!!

There's a place not far from us in Missouri that buys black walnuts.

Anonymous said...

FreeKansas said... There's nothing like trying to sleep while your roof is battered by tennis ball sized Walnuts.

David said...

The house I grew up in had a black walnut tree in the side yard. That tree dropped nuts and so much more. I still remember the mess, and the way the ones you missed picking up would fly out of the lawnmower.

Shelley said...

I don't know if they are 'black' walnuts or another variety but several years ago we cycled in France and we noticed that walnut trees were everywhere. Also every conceivable product made from it - pies, butters, salads, even liqueur - all delicious!

ADG said...

Those are some big nuts you got there Toad.

Toad said...


JMW said...

These are all over the grounds of my daughter's school and I actually slipped on one the other day. I didn't mind though, since it's a wonderful image of fall (no pun intended).