My inner squirrel has been unleashed.

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:

This summer and fall I canned over 40 small jars of jam, 38 quarts of applesauce, 26 jars of dill pickles, 9 quarts of pears, and over 30 pints of tomato sauce.

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.

If you look at that picture and don’t recognize a walnut, you’re not alone.  These things are greenish-yellow and spongy feeling.  Not exactly how most of us picture walnuts.

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.

This entry was posted in Canning, Domestic Arts, frugality mentality. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to My inner squirrel has been unleashed.

  1. Susie says:

    Ami, I’m so impressed with your canning! Your stockpile looks great! And stockpiling is not even close to hoarding. Hoarding is dirty, messy, cluttered, and very unorganized (much like my son’s bedroom). Stockpiling is neat, tidy, and very organized. You have done a great job, and as you open each jar this year you will be reminded of all those hard hours of work, sweat, and tears. However, it will be with joy because you know that you are feeding your family some healthy food. I have some canning jars I was going to give you, but it sounds like you might not really want to see them. If you do, let me know, and I’ll pass them on to you. —Susie

  2. Peggy says:

    When your mom and I did the walnuts, I wore some dr. gloves from Doug. They worked great and I didn’t get any black on my hands or nails. Sorry this hint is so late.

  3. whitney says:

    This is also why nuts are so popular around Christmas! because they are FINALLY ready to enjoy! and the work isn’t as back breaking, although it is way messier, if you wait for the green shell to blacken partially, they peel right off. Of course, my figures are a ‘mite’ uglier than yours (read black and yellow…like a hag) but my back didn’t hurt as bad! after I sprayed them off I laid them out in the driveway to dry off good in the sun and then spent the afternoon trying to keep squirrels from stealing them! now they’re in the garage until I getting around to bagging them in mesh and hanging them under the portico porch…some other day.

  4. Walnuts are so yum! I think they will be worth the blood, sweat, tears and hellish stains they are causing.

  5. Carolyn says:

    I am SO jealous of all that you have canned! (Also, that you have room for all that you’ve canned!) That looks incredible!

  6. Sarah Enz says:

    Nice job Ami. I didn’t can ONE SINGLE THING this year, so thanks for picking up the slack for me. We have several walnut trees at our house and the only thing they do for me is turn my ankles when I walk on them. I’ve never had the gumption to figure out how to harvest them. Plus, I don’t really like walnuts. (Gasp!)

  7. Pingback: The smell of summer. | bunkers down.

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