Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Foraging - My Nut Harvest

I had a fairly successful foraging trip for Hazel Nuts and Walnuts.  

I was not the only one out there collecting walnuts and since I work during the day I got skunked at a couple of the trees I had scoped out.  The local kids pick them and sell them for €2.00 a sack, which isn't actually a bad price.  I bought a sack last year and shelled out a little over two cups of nut meats.  They were quite tasty too.

I found one tree behind a store in my neighborhood that nobody else targeted.  It is a smallish tree though and I only got a small bag of nuts. The outer husks came off really easily except for the five black ones you see in the tray.  They dried and shrank fast to the shell.  No big deal, when I crack the nut it will break away. I have already eaten about a third of the nuts and they are very good.  These "English" Walnuts have a milder taste than the Black Walnuts that grow in my area of Pennsylvania.  I'm just eating a couple of these each day as I sit and watch TV.

The Hazelnuts were a much more labor intensive undertaking than the walnuts. The bushes that I had scoped out to do my foraging were stripped bare when I went there.  I was upset but that happens with wild foraging. On a run through my village though I came across hundreds of hazelnut pods along a parking area.  So I headed home and grabbed a big bag so I could collect them.

The pods are a bit prickly when they are dry and they take up a lot of room.  One paper grocery bag filled up quick.  I took the bag home and started popping the nuts out of the pods.  That was a lot harder than I expected. Some of them just fell out but the majority of them had to be twisted and pushed hard with a thumb to get them out.  By the time I was done, and this took at least an hour, a had a coffee can sized container filled with the nuts.  

I wanted to dry them out, kill any insects, and make the shells more brittle so I roasted them in my oven at 400 degrees for about ten minutes.  Sure smelled good. I let them cool for a day and the next day I started cracking them.  If I had to guess I would say 15-20 percent had no meats in them. These are relatively small nuts, being completely untended, and cracking them took quite a while.  I think about an hour and a half to do this one tray. What I got from it was one cup of nuts; not a lot for the amount of work.  But I was sitting on my porch listening to music and so it wasn't extra time out of my day.  The nuts taste really good and I need to figure out what I'll do with them.  I've put some on ice cream but I really should bake something with them I guess.  I have three times as many unshelled nuts and pods bagged and waiting for my to work on them. The nuts I have now are in the fridge so they will keep for quite a while.

So for a couple hours of work I got enough nuts for a few baked items or to eat plain.  If I had more time and was able to get to the nuts first I would have a good supply to carry me through the winter. As it is I have enough to enjoy and it really wasn't too much effort and they were FREE.

1 comment:

  1. Make a nut butter or Nutella with your hazelnuts. You will probably have to 1/2 the recipe with the amount of nuts you have. Google the recipe it looks easy to make and would be a treat.