This isn't the first time
I've lived beneath the shade of a beautiful old walnut tree
So I shouldn't have been surprised when, this fall, the sound of nuts hitting the roof above my office began. “What IS that? Oh yes, I remember that sound. “
My husband and I tried to stay on top of clean up. A couple of bucketfuls every time we took the puppies out, “Are we done yet?”
He'd smile and look up, “Nope, looks like there are still a few more.”
Rinse, lather, repeat, until one day, a friend asked if we would save them for him instead. The claim was there weren't many things better than a walnut harvested, dried, and prepared yourself. I was skeptical
Process modified, our buckets diverted, instead filling a couple of bins in the garage
To be quite honest, I'd forgotten all about them, until this weekend when we reaped the benefits. A surprise mason jar left on the table inside our front door
I didn't have to try many; these things announced themselves in a big way. My tastes were expecting an English walnut, maybe intensified a bit. I mean please, there couldn't be THAT much of a difference, right?
These little morsels were very un-walnut; the taste of earth, bittersweet, musty, and thick. They tasted like something he'd worked hard to get like you did a whole season of farming in just a couple of hours.
I investigated further. Good heavens, this really was no small task.
They're messy, the staining from the oil can be something awful, in addition to being incredibly tough nuts to crack (literally!) Aside from using a huller, I've read about people using hammers, drills, cars; one person even putting them in a cement mixer with rocks
Once they're hulled, you're not done quite yet, needing to let them dry a few weeks before cracking. A good rule of thumb, when one can shake the nut and hear a rattle; it's time
After a few mornings spent sprinkling them on my yogurt with fruit, I remembered a spiced nut recipe, rosemary, and thyme the stars of the show.
Adding English walnuts to increase the volume, I was in and out of the kitchen in less than fifteen minutes. A delicious snack that didn't disappoint. The nuts were full of flavor from the fresh herbs, salty yet a hint of sweet.
They're a beautiful snack on their own, or additions to meals like lunch salads when one wants a healthy fat.
I imagine they would make great gifts for friends and family as well.
~ Adapted from AllSpice
Rosemary and Thyme Walnuts
- 5 tsp olive oil
- 5 tsp maple syrup
- ½ tsp smoked paprika (the original called for ¼ tsp cayenne pepper)
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 3 cups walnut halves
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- Heat oven to 350° F
- In a bowl, whisk olive oil, maple syrup and smoked paprika
- Stir in rosemary and thyme
- Add walnut halves, and toss well to coat. Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake until fragrant and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle with salt while the nuts are still warm
- Allow to cool completely before storing in an air-tight container