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Wild Black Walnuts are one of the most unique nuts in the world, both with their bold flavor and their cultivation process. They are cultivated only in the United State and grown in the wild. Hand-harvested every fall, they are one of very few crops still picked by hand. The process is truly a labor of love since almost every step in the cultivation is still done by hand. It’s truly a group effort in which everyone has an important role in getting these delicious walnuts to consumers each year. We at Truly Good Foods appreciate that team effort and know the importance of the process being done by hand as we still hand blend our snack mixes to ensure the highest quality reaches our customers.
In late Autumn in the Midwest, thousands of locals hand-harvest the Wild Black Walnuts that have grown in the field. It’s often a tradition spanning generations. The walnuts grow naturally, receiving water from the rain with absolutely no chemicals or pesticides. They fall naturally from the black walnut trees and must be harvested directly from the ground. The walnuts are taken to central hulling stations for gathering and processing. Here, the green, messy hulls are removed, the nuts are dried, and the super tough nut shells are cracked to reveal the delicious walnuts inside. Wild Black Walnuts are also good for the environment since they are completely biodegradable. The outside black hull can be spread on land as a fertilizer or used in the making of natural dyes. Even the hard shell is eco-friendly and often used for abrasive cleaning. Outside of the nut, the wild trees are also very sustainable. They naturally reproduce and continue producing Black Walnuts for more than 50 years—much longer than orchard-grown nut trees.
Though wild black walnut (Juglans nigra) is delicious, its defenses thwart all reasonable efforts to get at it. Under the thick outer hull lies a yet harder inner shell to breach, and once within that, the nut’s brainlike convolutions render it almost impossible to extract in any large quantity. One method often recommended in the past was to drive a car over them. Apparently, flat tires and bulletlike projectiles were common enough that most modern nut enthusiasts have turned to more surgical means of extraction — like large wooden mallets. Fortunately, my goal was to collect only the nuts’ outer husks. Beautifully fragrant and green when first collected, walnuts season to an incomparable, deep, brown. These can be rendered into a rich, dark brown ink that is a draughtsman’s dream. I’d hoped to share this autumn ritual with my young daughter. Down deep, I harbored the hope that she might give up her vats of glitter-slime just long enough to appreciate something more organic. (Source: www.nytimes.com)