Wednesday, February 09, 2011

He giveth with one hand... (and walnut advice please!)

Bit of trivia, when it rains inches and inches all summer long, many things grow really well, I have never seen my belladonna's look like this. (Neither have the chooks!) Your fruit trees especially do well. The farm we bought next door has a walnut tree, probably planted 50 or a a hundred years ago... I didn't see any walnuts on it last year, but this year it is loaded.

Being a quilter, you know I can't bear to see anything go to waste, so I am trying to work out how to properly harvest these walnuts. I googled (of course) but they wont quite tell me exactly waht i want to know, so if you can assist, feel free! Do I pick them pretty big, and mainly all green, then dry them, then take the outside husk off or do I pick them with a bit of black and just rip the husks off somehow..then perhaps let the walnuts dry out somewhere in their shells? I always thought you just let them drop to the ground, then when the outside went black you got the walnut out...but the ones that have done that themselves under the tree are soft and rotten. These are some that have just started going black and when i pulled some skin off some it looked like a proper walnut underneath, so I have bought a few kgs home to do something with.
But have left all the rest on the tree. Some like the photo previous, some like below. What to do next?

O also foresee a LOT of pickled figs..actually i think I am really going to have to master fig jam, it's never been my talent, but there has a to be a good recipe out there somewhere!! Look at this for a fig tree...

AndI think the correct word is "laden"

Of course, all rain is not many Aussies know!!
Rain makes lots of thing grow, especially weed. Look at this great paddock of weeds...

..oh, wait, that's not a paddock of weeds, that's a paddock of early barley that should have been harvested about a month ago but we couldn't get on it. Now the joy is trying to get un-weedy, viable barley seeds out of there. i'll keep you updated on THAT challenge!!
Have a great day, any walnut harvesting advice or "What on earth to do with figs" will be greatly appreciated! Tracey
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Karen said...

Hi Tracey. I am no expert on walnut trees, but did once have one in a school residence yard. They used to ripen in late autumn and fall on the ground with black skins. We tried to pick them up every day so they did not sit in the damp grass. It would be good to have a net under the tree to catch them. We peeled the black skin off and kept them in washing baskets because there were lots of gaps for the air to circulate.
Never had any luck with figs - the fruit bats always ate them before they were ripe for us.
Good luck.

loulee said...

You found a silver lining then. I'm no help at all, just here to say Mmmmmmmm, figs. :-p

Nancy, Near Philadelphia said...

I've written to my friend Kathy (who comments as anonymous) who has walnut trees to see if she can help you.

Clare said...

Mrs Walnut Expert here. We have 4 huge trees.

Don't pick while they are still on the tree and don't, don't, don't use the ones where the skin has turned black. It means they're rotten.

When they are ready the shell will start to split and they'll fall to the ground. Again ignore the ones with black skins.

When they start falling, take them out of the split shells (wear gloves) and put them on racks to dry out, or leave them out in the sun. They are delicious to eat before they've dried out, but if you want to keep them to eat later (they are very good for the heart), then they must be dried otherwise they'll rot.

I've got a great recipe for fig and walnut chutney which I'll send you when I can find it.

DD loves choc walnuts. Try to take them out of the shells intact, or at least in halves, melt good choc in bain marie or double boiler and dip walnuts in choc. Take out, put on greaseproof paper and leave to set. Sprinkle with cocoa power. Delish!

Nancy, Near Philadelphia said...

Your friend does not allow anonymous comments. But here is what I would tell her, if you want to cut and paste this and send to her.

I agree with Clare. Too much rain is bad for walnut harvesting. When the green hulls start to split, take the walnut out. We shell our nuts and then keep them in the freezer until we are ready to use them. We have English walnuts. Are your nuts black walnuts? Black walnuts are harder to get the shells off. Good luck!

Ozjane said...

I am drooling over those walnuts and I would have said they have to fall so I am glad an expert agrees.
What about Fig paste ah la Maggie Beer. I have a couple of her books so will try and see if I have a recipe....I sometimes buy it.
I have found I had the best biggest crop of nectarines but the last heavy rain has begun to turn them a bit moldy even on the it is good and bad. The birds won on the narabeen plums and there is a great crop of peaches and apples.

The Calico Cat said...

My grandma had a walnut tree, the squirrels always got to them before we could...

Needled Mom said...

It is amazing what happens with lots of rain.

Our son has a walnut tree and the walnuts stay on the tree until the skins dry and release the walnuts. They are then collected, allowed to dry and cracked open.

How about drying the figs for using throughout the year?

Ali Honey said...

Hi, We too have walnut trees.( in NZ ) Clare is correct. It is too soon to pick those nuts. The green skin should split open and relaease the nuts. Collect them often. Spread out in the sun on an old sheet or blanket.( bring them in at night.) After about a week they should be ready to shell. ( we use hammers on a steel work bench ) Strict quality control is needed at this stage . If in doubt throw it out. Look for any bugs, rotton or bad discolouration. Once shelled put into plastic bags in the deep freezer. That way they will last for months and will not go rancid . Any bugs you may have missed will die. They don't stick together so you can go to the freezer and remove how many you want at any time. Do not refreeze once thawed.
Any questions just ask.
Ours haven't started to drop just yet. Cheers Ali.

Clare said...

Wow. Never knew you could freeze them. Will have to try that this season. Good job I'm a dab hand at cracking the shells. We have special hammers, and walnut "boards" are a speciality here in the PĂ©rigord. Specially made boards with dips in to hold the nuts so they don't jump when hit with the hammer.

Chris said...

Hi Tracey

You might want to try the following recipe for your figs - I stumbled upon it when I actually got a crop of figs (doesn't happen that often - I suspect our summers are too short here in Canada).

Fig and Honey Jam
- 3/4 honey for each cup of figs - peeled and crushed
- cook slowly, stirring constantly
- when thick pour into sterilized jars
- process in a boiling water bath 10 minutes.

I have been meaning to try it with my Grandmother's Plum Jam recipe - thinking it might be similar.

- 1 cup prune plums
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours stirring well every 15 minutes (will thicken as it cools)
- Mother and grandmother never did but I process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes to seal - having heard that the parafin of yesteryear is no longer safe

Good luck - I will be following along to see if you get some other ideas in the hopes that I'll beat the birds to the figs this summer.

By the way, I really enjoy your blog and appreciate your many talents.


Mama Koch said...

THe worms and bugs always get to our walnuts before we get them.

Figs? yuck.