We live in town, and there’s this massive tree on the corner hanging right over the stop sign. It’s almost like clockwork that a car stops and a giant black walnut drops onto it. When you’re in the car, the first thing that comes to mind is a gunshot, but, once you look around at all the “misses” on the road, you realize what happened and start cursing.
But sometimes nature is just trying to hit you over the head with something you’ve been ignoring. We suddenly learned to love what that shocking impact indicates when we visited Grimo Nut Nursery last year, and learned a whole lot about nuts, especially local nuts. Now, with that knowledge, it’s hard to ignore that loud sound and wonder what it tastes like on the inside.
Shagbark Hickory is related to the pecan, but many say it has better flavour and can be used in the place of walnuts and pecans. So why don’t we all have a jar of hickory nuts in our cupboards? The main issue with hickory nuts is the difficulty in cracking them industrially while keeping the meat intact. Of course this is an issue in our industrially-minded world.
It’s funny that in our personal attempt to get away from the industrial supermarket, we finally noticed something incredible, something new to us, that was growing right under our noses for over twenty years.
Keep an eye out for some shaggy bark this fall, and if you see a Shagbark, pull the car over and husk a few dozen nuts. Let them dry out for a few weeks and then see if you can hit the bullseye to get them opened cleanly. The flavour is addictive, and cracking them while keeping the meat intact is, quite possibly, even more addictive.