So canning season is over. (This is where I start singing the Hallelujah Chorus loudly and with extreme gusto.) Let me say for the record that I am immensely happy that all canning has ceased for the year. So happy, that I may or may not have sobbed with relief when I put the box of canning equipment up on a high shelf out of sight.
This has been an epic canning season. In fact, you could say that I canned like I never canned before. The proof is not so much in the pudding, but on the storage shelves:
Looking at these shelves I feel… exhausted to be honest, but also slightly proud and very excited to have such a nice stockpile of homemade, healthy food for the coming year. There is a thin line between wisely stock-piling food and earning a spot on the t.v. show Hoarders. I figure I’m two shelves short of an intervention.
I suspect this conglomeration of pride, tiredness, and glee is how a squirrel feels when he has stored a million nuts in his tree against the coming winter. So I guess you can say I’m a little squirrel at heart.
Speaking of squirrels and nuts, let me tell you about my latest food project. Because I obviously have obsession issues and no idea how to stop! storing! food!
I am gathering and drying black walnuts. Which is actually not as simple as it sounds.
First you have to locate a black walnut tree. I’m lucky (or cursed) because my mother has one in her yard and my friend has four at her house. Second, you wait for the walnuts to fall to the ground (and hopefully not on your head.) Third, you break your back. And look like you’ve contracted leprosy.
Here are the walnuts when they fall off the tree.
This is where it gets interesting.
You have to somehow rip that greenish husk off of the nut, let the nuts dry out, and then let the nuts cure in a well ventilated, dry, cool place for a couple months. Only then you can crack the walnut, extract the walnut meat, and store it in your freezer.
Did I say interesting? I meant exhausting and physically draining.
After my mother drove her lawnmower over the walnuts in her yard to smash the green husks, I spent three hours picking up those poor demolished pulps and extracting the actual nut from inside. THREE hours of back-breaking labor and I got fifteen gallons of nuts. ONLY FIFTEEN GALLONS.
Not to mention, I got walnut stain all over my hands, in particular my thumbs. I promise you it’s walnut stain, not some disease.
And I got these wearing two pairs of gloves, yo. Walnut stains are ______ (this is where you may fill in the blank with the four letter adjective of your choice, mine is ‘hell.’) But I shouldn’t worry, because all this stuff should come off in a three or four weeks, that’s all.
Here are the walnuts drying out.
Here are the walnuts ready to be stored and cured for a couple of months.
Hours of hard labor, sweat, tears, and disfigured thumbs= Fifteen gallons of walnuts= approximately three pounds of shelled walnuts. I will never again complain about the price of nuts in the store. Ever.
No wonder squirrels are so squirrelly. Walnuts would drive anyone insane.