Friday, 7 October 2011

A wizened husk can be a beautiful thing.

I have to admit I was relieved when the hot weather broke. There was something downright spooky about winter sun of that temperature, even the quality of the light wasn't right. I was resentful about digging the suncream out again (parents required to slather wriggly offspring in Factor 50 as thick as marj will know where I'm coming from) my hayfever kicked off again and the sloes were shriveled like raisins by the time we got around to picking them.

On the plus side though, it's been utterly fabulous for the walnut crop. Normally when they fall they're still wearing their fat, wet green jackets which stain the hands mercilessly and can be difficult to pick off. Then they need to be dried out in order to remove the bitter 'wet walnut' taste and to preserve them. This year though, they're falling in a remarkably dessicated state. The green covering is dry and brittle which means it rubs off easily and cleanly, even better, the nuts are sun dried to perfection. The few I broke open have just the right crisp texture and that funny membrane that divides the two halves of the nut (can't remember the correct name) snaps cleanly in two which is a sign they've dried correctly.

It's hugely labour saving, walnuts are normally a bit of a pain to dry out and we end up with sacks of them all round the house, spread out in front of the radiators to try and speed the process up. This time it's just taken an hour or so to rub the skins off and that's it. As a result we're being ruthlessly efficient, going out early in the morning after every windy night to fill another bag. Knowing the pigs will be eating the excess assauges my guilt twinges. I wonder how a diet of windfall apples and walnuts will affect the taste of our pork?


  1. I would think pork supplied with in built apple and walnut stuffing would be a wonderful thing!

  2. Glad the weather has helped you out. Pity it won't last until the end of the harvest period. Could you take some photos of the walnut trees to post them ...I am curious to see. Also do you forage hazelnuts too??

  3. Hope so Penny!

    Tanya - I find the easiest way to identify walnut trees is to spot the walnuts still up in the branches, they're the size, shape and colour of limes. Though at this time of year it's probably easier to spot them on the ground!

    I do forage hazelnuts. The main enemy are squirrels who get first dibs. I go to a small cluster of trees surrounded by roads on all sides with no squirrels. Again, look on the floor, the ripe nuts fall down, the green ones on the trees are still 'wet'.