Friday, August 2, 2013

Free Food

A shagbark hickory tree has a three-year cycle, producing lots of nuts, then some, then squat, and I didn't know that, so last year when the shade tree had squat I blamed drought, or squirrels, or myself somehow, and was a sad sack until I heard this year's nuts pinging on my roof and smacking the pump-house roof, and  beheld a whole darned treefull to harvest.

They cluster in twos and sometimes threes. I pick only those I can reach from terra firma or by standing on top of the pump house, the only time I ever do anything so foolish. Still I filled a basket.

Within the spicy-fragrant (like Old Spice shaving lotion) green husk is a small brown husk hiding the nut. The green husk dries to brown, splits, and must be removed, and then the tight-as-a-leotard inner husk must dry; by that time, it's Christmas. Needing a drying rack and loath to buy one I raided the garage and made a duplex drying rack out of a plastic organizer that just never fit anywhere in the house and a screen that no longer has a window to match.

Ultimately I will have about a pound of nuts to look forward to. Cracking my own hickory nuts at Christmas is divine.


Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

I think I've heard that trees sometimes take a year off from producing. But what do I know? ;-)

Love your ingenuity! If you get a lot of them, maybe I'll buy a bag off of you to put some in banana bread or something.

Buford Nature said...

You can separate mast and hulls by crushing and tossing the nuts into water. The mast floats and the hulls sink. I have done this with pignuts. Makes one feel so Neolithic, sitting in the shade and banging away on nuts with rocks.