Not Far From The Tree recently had an intriguing proposition from the city’s much-loved St. John’s Bakery: “Bring us some nuts from local trees and we’ll bake them into our bread.” Wow! Sounds great!
We had a few black walnut trees already registered with us, despite not having harvested any nut trees before, so we thought it was going to be a no-brainer. All we had to do was research how to dehull, crack, and roast the nuts and voila – roasted, delicious nuts ready for delivery. As it turned out, the task was quite demanding.
The three trees registered with us proved fruitless: a volunteer gleaner and I got to one walnut tree after the nuts were all gone; the registered tree owner of another tree had recently moved; and we never heard back from the third. However, determined to harvest black walnuts in the city, I managed to collect 20lbs worth from a tree in south Etobicoke.
So now what! Actually the dehulling was remarkably easy. I had to wear latex gloves so as to avoid any serious staining since the outer shell releases a rich black dye. Once the fruits were dehulled, I washed and then dried them overnight on some newspaper.
Then came the fun part: I spent about 2 hours cracking the nuts outside with a hammer and knifing out the meat (only cut myself once!).
So how much meat do you get from 20lbs of nuts? I estimate it was about 200-400 grams. Not bad I think, for a first foray into the local Toronto nut world. I then roasted the nuts in a frying pan until they were lightly browned. And done! The nuts, as well as some pears and apples from other picks, were delivered to St. John’s Bakery last week. As an added bonus, instead of throwing out the hulls, Not Far From The Tree gave the hulls to a local artist who is going to try to use them for their natural dye. (We hope to have some of his finished artwork on display at our End-Of-Season Celebration on Thursday, November 5th.)
What may have seemed just like squirrel food is now transformed into food for humans, too.