Wild About - Black Walnuts (Really Wild, Maybe Just Plain Nuts!)

At 8 pm on Halloween night, MacGyver mentions to me that he thinks he found a black walnut tree. He had thought that this was a vaguely interesting piece of information, something to note for next year's foraging. He didn't quite expect to see my cartoon google-eyes reaction.

Black walnuts? Black flippin' walnuts? My all-time favorite nut, loaded with intense flavor and memories of eating them from my grandpa's tree in Iowa? A tree that isn't native to my home state? Those black walnuts?

So next, he says to me, do you want to go pick some now?


You see, the nuts were 150 miles away, and as I mentioned before, it was 8 at night after a long and full holiday. That's a long drive. It was late. The nuts might already be gone. Decisions decisions.

And you know what swung it for me? My Gran. My Gran was an adventurer of the highest order. She answered every question with a yes. Gran, do you want to try eating grasshoppers? Yes. Gran, even though you're over 80 and use a cane, do you want to walk to the edge of that cliff to look over? Yes. Gran, do you want to dress up in a corset and fishnets and pretend you are a saloon girl for a picture? Yes. Gran, do you want to put your feet in the ice-cold mountain stream? Yes.

Butter, do you want spend nearly five hours driving to glean black walnuts at an old fallen farmstead at midnight on Halloween?


Of course, the perfect ending to this story would be me smiling at the triumph of collecting a bounty of black walnuts. Unfortunately, someone got to them before us. We ended up scrounging old nuts from under a thick layer of duff by the light of headlamps, and only came home with a five gallon bucket of black walnuts. But I still had a fantastic time, and I've got a few black walnuts to enjoy throughout the winter. Part of the joy of foraging is the adventure, the thrill of a treasure hunt. And on Halloween night, I got a heavy dose of that.

I'm sharing this post at the Hearth and Soul hop, and Real Food Wednesday.


  1. It is those spur of the moment decisions that usually being great joy, or at least a good time! Thanks, you know I don't think I have ever eaten a black walnut.

  2. Butter, are you an absolute nut?? Yes.
    What a fun fun way to spend Halloween Night!! So what do you do with the nuts?

  3. You know, I would have totally loved your gran, and I would have totally BEEN there with you! Are the black walnuts the ones that look a little like small green tennis balls and when you crack them, you can use the inside fibers to die things black? If so missy, we have a ton growing all over this freaking place. lemme go out for a look and if I can find some, will let you know! I love your passion and I thank you so much for hosting and posting on the hearth and soul hop! Alex

  4. Melynda - You're so right. Sometimes I wonder if I spend too much time thinking and weighing options, and not enough time do-ing.

    Christy- I just got them last night, and black walnuts are very hard to get into. So, it'll be a while before my brain spins out any recipes. I can tell you that my mom loves banana bread with black walnuts, and black walnut ice cream is my dad's favorite.

    You're right Alex, you would have loved my Gran. She was an absolute hoot to hang out with. I would have been completely happy to go everywhere with her because she was such a potitive force. All of those questions/situations were real, btw, I'll try to find the picture of her dressed up as a saloon girl to send to you. She was quite pleased that she got to hold a shotgun for that picture, too.

  5. You're crazy, you know that, right? I love the story about your Gran. She sounds amazing.

    Black walnuts grow around here - and the squirrels like to bring me black walnut treats. But, I've never developed an affinity for them. They taste oddly perfumey to me. Bummer.

  6. Butter,
    Your Gran sound like mine, I would have loved her. I would have been right there with you after the walnuts! I really enjoyed your adventure, thank you so much for sharing it.
    Miz Helen

  7. Your gran sounds like mine! She went body surfing with my kids when she was 79, berry picking and hiking in the Sierras in her 80's. I will travel several hours out of the way just so my kids can see another historical sight. Thankfully my husband chooses to find this habbit amusing rather than annoying. :)

  8. Ok - so now I need to know - what is the difference between a black walnut and a regular walnut? Love your adventurous heart and your passion for life and all its bounty.
    Sue :-)

  9. An adventure is almost always a good thing - both for your heart and your soul! Well done for going - and your Gran sounds like a wonderful, wonderful lady!!

  10. Black walnuts are my all time favorite too! But they are hard to get the meat out of. Sorry someone got their first..maybe next year!

  11. An adventurous spirit! Gotta love that!


  12. I agree. .what a fun way to celebrate Halloween! I enjoyed reading this editorial. I love the adventure=)

  13. Oh YAY! That's so incredibly cool. What a perfect adventure for dark, chilly Halloween night! Your gran sounds like an amazing woman :)
    hmmm...like somebody else I know...perhaps my hearth and soul hop co-host? Hmmm.... ;)

  14. LOL heather, ya baby! And butter, I knew those were all true, i can just see them all now in my head! ;)

  15. Butter reading your blog is like looking at my family history. I love your stuff and I'm glad you got a 5 gallon bucket of black walnuts. I haven't had any in foooorever!

  16. For all of you who have wonderful grandmothers, isn't it wonderful to have a real role model, someone to show you how life should be lived? I know I had the best. I can always feel my gran with me when I do something fun.

    Sue - Black walnuts have a very hard and thick shell, and their flavor is very intense. Think about the difference between a regular tomato and a sun dried tomato.

  17. Philippine pili nuts from the Bicol region in the Philippines is a great Filipino or Philippines food orsnack. Pili nuts are very healthy and nutritious indeed, being a source of energy, potassium and iron.They also have protein, dietary fiber / fibre, and calcium as well as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.  I know they have no cholesterol, no trans fat, and the unsalted ones have no sodium. What is great about the pili nut snack or treat is that they are so crisp, rich, and delicious.


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