Harvesting, Cracking & Eating Walnuts
Summer may seem like a distant memory but its fruits (and nuts) are still with us. Last week, I made the short 2 mile journey from the farm to the outskirts of Churt where three beautiful walnut trees reside within the driveway of a residential property, to meet the owner, Dee.
By the time of my visit, the walnut harvesting season is already in full swing – a short period which will continue into November. Visibly passionate about veganism and a plant-based diet, I get the feeling that this is the ultimate in lush living. Dee describes the walnuts delicacy, their endless health benefits and hardiness. The aromatic leafy foliage that, rubbed between your fingers, leaves the faint smell of eucalyptus.
Unsurprisingly, Dee has a bushy-tailed competitor who shares her love of walnuts. Lots of squirrels visit her home at this time of year and she feels a responsibility to share her hoard. After all, squirrels have to live too. That said, they're thrifty creatures so she doesn’t waste time gathering her share as soon as they drop to the ground. It's a race against time and the nuts are dirty when they fall so she cleans them with water before spreading them out to dry. It sounds and looks like a full-time occupation in itself. I carry 2 considerable sackfuls to my car ready to sell at the farm and am told that there are several cratefuls drying inside.
Even after 8 years living here, Dee is uncertain why one tree will bear fruit when another will give none, or why one tree might be loaded one season and not the next. There’s one large tree nearest the house that is visibly producing a lot of nuts, as Dee points to the green husks - some still closed and others cracking to reveal the brown shell inside.
Dee talks animatedly of the special qualities of walnuts, especially the distinctive flavour of the plump wet walnuts in front of my feet which I agree possess an appealing sweetness & milkiness. I learn that they can be picked earlier, before they ripen on the tree if you pickle them. However, Dee’s highlight of the autumn season is to peel the ripe seeds from their shell and savour the nutmeat in its natural state.
And I have to agree.
Available to purchase while stock lasts at Applegarth and online at https://applegarthathome.co.uk/
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