|Project by Radicalfarmergal||posted 10-10-2009 02:49 PM||12886 views||0 times favorited||12 comments|
When we moved into our old farmhouse, we acquired a beautiful, approximately 20 year old nut tree that offers us an abundant harvest of nuts every fall. After a little botanic sleuthing, I figured out it is not a butternut (which the leaves, branches and trunk closely resemble), but a heartnut tree. The heartnut is considered a seed sport of the Japanese walnut. Heartnuts produce tasty nuts, high in fiber, antioxidants and protein. The taste is sweet and mild. Like the butternut, the heartnut is a wonderful nut for cooking and baking. Toasting brings out their flavor. Heartnuts can be substituted in any recipe that uses walnuts, including pesto, cookies and quick breads. Many of ours are just eaten raw, right from the shell, because my young sons love to crack the nuts open with a hammer and eat them right away. A nutcracker works just as well, but perhaps is not as much fun.
We harvest the heartnuts in September and October when they fall from the tree. The thin, green husk on the nut remains attached at harvest, but falls off after drying. If my sons can’t wait, they stomp on the nuts to remove the shells. We dry the nuts for several weeks in a cool, dry place. After finding a fungus growing on a few of our stored nuts, we have learned to store them in open baskets to promote good air circulation.
I have taken a few pictures to show you what our heartnut harvest looks like. All I have left to do now is to go bake something….
First photo – the heartnuts as they look when we picked them up from under the tree.
Second photo – the heartnuts with their outer husks removed, drying on a paper towel
Third photo – the heartnut tree behind the house
Fourth photo – my son showing an almost whole heartnut he removed from its shell
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