It seems the best starting place is the black walnuts.
Last week I was surprised and delighted to discover one of the black walnut trees planted twenty years ago produced a respectable crop of walnuts. I had hoped to see black walnuts in my lifetime, but know black walnuts need to be mature to produce fruit.
My dad and I had driven to the Raymond property to check on it. It wasn’t until we were returning to the car when my dad found the first black walnut. He stopped, as I squelched through a particularly soggy patch, and held up a green leathery ball.
‘This looks like walnut…’ he observes.
I just stared at it, my mouth dropping open. Looking down, I realized I had been squelching through many, many fallen black walnut nut-husk balls. I ran back to the house and found a plastic bag to hold our loot.
It is fitting my father helped me discover this walnut bonanza. He grew up on a farm in Iowa with big black walnut trees. I remember my grandfather picking walnuts in the winter while watching TV. My grandmother made a black walnut sandie that I miss terribly. When I was living in Kansas City and driving to the farm on weekends, she would have a plate of those sandies waiting for me when I arrived.
That was one reason I wanted black walnuts on this property and have love watching these trees grow. We still have all 10.
Black walnuts 2014
The other reason I wanted black walnuts is 20 years ago I started hand spinning and dyeing fiber. At that time I was obsessively dyeing any roving I found and was really enjoying natural dyes. I knew black walnut made an excellent, color fast natural dye.
There you have it.
I have husked the bag of walnuts, spread the hulls on a tray and put them in the garage to dry. The smallish walnuts are in a mesh bag curing. I don’t have high hopes of getting much from them.
I am reading anything I can find on the internet regarding processing walnuts, which has led me here. I hope to stay a while and will share my journey.