Sunday, May 8, 2011

All about a “nut!”

I was reading an interesting article about the health benefits of walnuts, which I’ll publish below. However, this evoked memories of my youth. We had several large Walnut trees. When the walnuts started to drop in early autumn it was a sign that the nuts were ready for harvest. There were two ways to get the nuts 1. To wait till they had all dropped, but that was not considered as it would have dragged out for weeks. 2. Somebody climbed up into the very sprawly tree from branch to branch with a long wooden rod and knocked the nuts down. On our farm I was assigned this task and grandfather worked on the bottom branches with the rod.

Most people would not know
that the walnut with its hard shell is actually surrounded by a husk. The fruit actually consists
of three layers: 1.The round, green, fleshy husk borne singly or in clusters and about 7cm in diameter. 2. The hard, thick corrugated shell of the nut and 3. The kernel inside it.

After the nuts were all picked up the husk had to be removed
- some may ha
ve already split. This was a messy job as the husk contains a brown dye that browns your hands and took a couple of weeks to disappear, and if you got it onto your clothes it would never come out. Rubber gloves as we know them today were not available. Click on picture to enlarge. 

After the nuts were husked we spread them out in the attic for a couple of months for the kernel to harden as in freshly picked walnuts the kernel was very soft. Our sole purpose for growing walnuts, besides putting some aside for eating and cakes, was to get our yearly supply of cooking and salad oil. The latter was the reason the nuts had to be allowed to harden.

In our
long winter nights after the grape harvest our family got together around a table to crack the nuts. (Perhaps Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker'' Suite evolved from such procedures.) We had a few bricks with a small indentation where we put the nut and cracked it with a hammer. The men did the cracking and the women separated the kernel from the broken shell. Often neighbours dropped in to help, and on those nights many a yarn was told.

The final phase of our walnuts was to take them to the oil miller or “oiler” as we called him. I enjoyed the day when I went with my grandfather or father to the oiler and we stayed there through the whole process, which was very interesting for me.

The nuts were first placed in a round trough,
which had a revolving axle in the middle from which another axle protruded that had a big stone wheel on its outer end. When the motor was switched on the wheel kept going around till the nuts were crushed to a pulp. They were then taken out and put into the oil press, and another lot of nuts were placed into the round crusher. I can still vividly see how the yellow good smelling and tasty walnut oil was flowing from the oil press.

Interesting Walnut facts. The deciduous tree can grow to 25 metres. It has male and female flowers that are pollinated by the wind. The male flowers pollinate the female flowers. As the female flowers fade away, a small green walnut fruit starts to grow in a greenish husk. The male flowers are catkins that hang on the twigs from the previous year. The female flowers grow in twos or threes at the ends of new twigs.Male flowers on the left and female flowers on the right. Click on pictures to enlarge.
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And now to the story “Walnuts rank as top nut, providing highest level of quality antioxidants,” with the compliments of Natural News. click here.
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Article References:
For Heart-Healthy Antioxidants, Walnuts Are Number One.

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My quote for today: - Werner
The greatest wealth is health. ~Virgil

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

What an interesting life you have led Werner. Thanks for sharing. Allan’s sister had a very large walnut tree on their property and we looked at putting one in our garden in our last house, but were advised not to as apparently nothing will grow underneath them.