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One incredible nut

When we first bought this land, we had no idea it held hidden gems such as native black walnut trees. What a wonderful surprise Nate happened upon when he was clearing paths and cleaning up all the trash accumulated over the decades. In fact, he found a whole grove of producing walnut trees! Harvest is right around back-to-school, and their green softball size hulls are easy to spot on the ground once they’ve fallen from the tree; getting the hulls off is another story! Black walnut harvest is a process – it takes some work to get that fibrous hull off and gets a little, ok, a lot, messy! With some practice, we figured out a technique that involves a rolling action between two stones.


Jackson hulling





Soon, we’ll get a little more sophisticated, but our stone age technique did the job last year. If you don’t wear gloves, well then, your fingers will take on a beautiful shade of walnut brown! Watch the video below to see how we do it!




What makes the beautiful shade of walnut brown? So glad you asked. I won’t get too sciency on you, but it’s from a chemical the black walnut makes naturally called juglone, and it’s found in all parts of the tree, especially the buds, nut hulls and roots. The highest concentration of juglone is in the soil directly underneath the canopy of the tree and is toxic to sensitive plants (which is most plants when it comes to black walnuts’ juglone potency!). The juglone is why other plants and trees don’t easily grow near or under black walnuts. Cool, right? If you want to get extra geeky, the term for this is called “allelopathy.” Interestingly enough, other trees produce juglone too (butternut, pecan, shagbark hickory, and English walnut) but at concentrations much less than the black walnut so they don’t affect juglone-sensitive plants. The black walnut root zone is approximately 50 to 60ft, so basically a black walnut grove is a black walnut grove. Makes it easy to find those bright green hulls! Check out The Morton Arboretum, lots of great knowledge and resources. https://mortonarb.org/plant-and-protect/tree-plant-care/plant-care-resources/black-walnut-toxicity/


When our contractor asked us what color stain we wanted for the pillars on our house, we replied with walnut! Juglone is great as a stain and a dye, but its uses go way beyond just color! After a customer of ours at a market told us his mom used it for ringworm, I got curious. A quick search and I was blown away by what I found! It has anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties and the bark has been a topic of interest in dentistry in India to improve dental care! Check out this study! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9510174/


This stuff is so exciting, but let’s switch gears and now talk about the uniqueness of the nutritional profile of the black walnut. Wonder why prices of shelled nuts cost so much? It’s a laborious process harvesting and processing nuts, and black walnuts are right up there as one of the toughest nuts to crack. But they are absolutely worth the price and effort for nutrition and flavor. They are nutritionally superior to the English walnut in that they have the highest protein content of any tree nut, contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and oh my, the flavor! Their flavor is so very different than the English walnut and is almost indescribable with earthy tones and a hint of cherry or amaretto. Once you try one, your taste buds will not be satisfied with the blandness of the English walnut found in most grocery stores. Hard to find in grocery stores, I was thoroughly surprised and delighted when recently I found a very small package, 2oz, of Black Walnuts for sale in Food Lion! We’ll conduct a taste test around our harvest time to compare, but if you’re curious in the meantime, go get you a package from Food Lion.



According to webmd.com, here’s the nutritional profile of the black walnut below. As you’ll see, it’s substantial; throw in all the incredible disease preventing benefits too and that’s a win-win in my book!


In just ¼ of a cup of black walnuts you’ll get 8gm of protein, 18gm of (beneficial) fat, 2gm of fiber, 3gm of carbohydrates and no sugar.  They also contain Vitamin E, folate, melatonin, iron, potassium, magnesium. Rich in polyphenols, they have been found to decrease blood sugar, decrease LDL (bad cholesterol), and decrease risk of heart disease. (Side note: other foods high in polyphenols and are some of my favorites include: extra virgin olive oil, dark chocolate, green tea and coffee.)


So, there ya have it! One incredible nut. Give us a couple years and you’ll be able to purchase our black walnuts by the bag, unshelled; we don’t want to keep all the fun to ourselves now! 😉

 

Until next time. 

Love, Dr. Amanda

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