Nuts to you
August 25, 2009 12:27 PM   Subscribe

ForageFilter: What exactly should I do to get shagbark hickory nuts ready to eat?

So I have a shagbark hickory tree, and it's having a bumper crop this year. Nuts raining down, squirrels in a frenzy, etc. This afternoon I felt Euell Gibbons-y and gathered up a big mess of them.

They still have the green outer husk on. I.e. they look like the things on the left here.

I read online that you should dump them in a pail of water and get rid of the ones that float, because they're not filled out inside, and not worth shelling. OK, did that, got rid of a handful. And I spread them out to dry.

But what now? Googling yields conflicting advice. Do I let them dry for weeks until the outer husk turns brown? Or do I get the husks off now, and then let them dry? Or do I not let them dry at all?

Bonus points if you have secrets for getting husks off... I've seen it suggested that you run them over with your car. Yes? no?
posted by kestrel251 to Food & Drink (6 answers total)
You need to wait for the husks to turn brown and brittle. They're much easier to remove then. Many harvesters just leave them on the tree and wait for them to turn brown and fall.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:28 PM on August 25, 2009

When I was a kid we used to pick up hickory nuts that fell from a tree by the school, crack the outer coating with a rock on the blacktop, take out the nut, crack that, eat! They were good. Boys had the advantage of a penknife to help get the outer shell off, but we girls did ok too.

Hexatron's wife
posted by hexatron at 2:14 PM on August 25, 2009

We used to stomp them when I was a kid. They're a lot of work for not very much nut meat.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:18 PM on August 25, 2009


@Thorzdad --I did gather them from the ground; these fell off while green. I think that's partly why I was a little confused by some of what I found via Google.

@sciencegeek -- yeah, I gathered that. (ha ha ha ha sorry, bad pun.) But this is more "amusing experiment" than "desperately want nuts"... So I'm willing to spend the time at least this once. Rumor has it that they're really good in brittle and cakes. We shall see!
posted by kestrel251 at 3:24 PM on August 25, 2009

I've grown up eating foraged nuts and berries, especially hickory nuts!

The first thing I would do is crack one to see if it's what they call a hog nut, or too bitter to eat. Even if it's green you should be able to tell. Not all wild nut trees produce nuts you would want to eat.

Next, don't pick them. Ever. Let them fall naturally. Look for nuts that have a well-split hull. It doesn't matter if the hull is still green or browning. Gather your nuts and hang them in nut bags (if you have them) or something improvised from netting.

Hang these in a cool, dry place in an area that gets good air circulation for a few weeks until the hulls have separated from the nut and are ready to be hulled. Hang the nuts themselves for 3-6 months in an area that gets good air circulation to season and dry them.

Finally, enjoy shelling them!
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:35 PM on August 25, 2009

Oh, and *don't* run over them with your car. You'll make a nasty mess. Just be patient in harvesting and drying and the hulls will come right off.
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:37 PM on August 25, 2009

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