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|l||The Wondrous World of Walnuts
It is easy to get a little sentimental this time of the year. The leaves are changing, the air is a little crisper, and thoughts are moving towards the upcoming stream of holidays. Walking along a wooded path, maybe humming to yourself, when all of a sudden, another one of those damn green balls comes screaming towards you from fifty feet above.
Other than organic missiles, black walnuts are very functional because every part of them can be used. The nutmeat has a warm and distinctive taste that is used in baking and desserts, the hard outer shell is usually ground for polishing or sandblasting, and the green hull makes a chestnut brown dye for fabric and yarn.
It is difficult to find anyone who grew up in a rural setting in Appalachia that did not have to collect black walnuts as a youngster and go to school with stained hands. They were be considered as potential income and winter treats wasted if they were not gathered, hulled, then sold or stored.
Although, Lexington is not particularly rural anymore, many people have black walnut trees in their yards and after not picking them up have probably been approached by someone asking if they could have them. Which brings up the questions, "What? Why? How do you get the walnut out? What do you do with them?"
There are only two ways to get the walnut out of its hull. The first is to run over them with your vehicle (I am not kidding) and the second is to sell them. The first way seems fairly self-explanatory and the second, well, the best way to find information on selling black walnuts is to pick up a Fact Sheet from the local Cooperative Extension office. The Fayette and Woodford offices were very helpful, saying that they receive many calls in September asking black walnut questions.
There are many commercial hullers in the state and prices are generally $10.00 per 100 pounds after hulls are removed but G.M. Taylor Seed in Georgetown will pay $4.00 per 100 pounds with hull so you do not have to wait and they are accepting them until November. This is the only commercial huller that I called, and have been told that many people call around for pricing. This may not seem like very much money but, well, they are free. They just fall off of very tall trees for you, no picking. Remember, though, the outer hull is used as a dye and will not come off, as I have also been told, even through the use of many home remedies.
To use black walnuts for yourself (holiday baking is coming up) be sure to remove the green hull as soon as possible because it can affect the taste and appearance of the nut. Wash them several times and then place them in a cool, dry place in a single layer to dry. Shelling the nuts is typical of shelling any nuts, everyone seems to have a favorite system but when the nuts have been shelled they should stored in airtight containers and then refrigerated or frozen due to their high oil content.
The black walnut has a strong and distinctive flavor and used in moderation can be a wonderful addition to baking. Jam cakes, tortes, and even quick breads are all excellent palettes for this nut. But, please do not take my word for it, Jonathan Lundy, of Jonathan's in the Gratz Park Inn, is sharing a recipe with us in which we can use this currently ample treat.
I will leave this to him, and I am off to gather walnuts. I believe that I have all of the items needed and packed: pith helmet, leather work gloves, wellies, and many burlap sacks.
Banana Black Walnut Bread Pudding with
Banana Cream Anglaise and Caramel
Banana Black Walnut Bread
Yield 2 4x8 Loaf Pans
1c. Mashed Ripe Bananas
1t. Pure Vanilla Extract
1c. Black Walnuts
1t. Baking Soda
Preheat oven to 350 and grease loaf pans with butter on the bottom only.
In a large bowl combine sugar and butter, beat until mixture is light and fluffly. Add eggs, milk, bananas and vanilla extract.
In another bowl combine flour, nuts, baking soda and salt. Flod the wet mix into the dry until thoroughly mixed.
Pour into the loaf pans and bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Banana Black Walnut Bread Pudding
Yield 12 portions
1c. Brown Sugar
Pinch Ground Nutmeg
1t. Pure Vanilla Extract
3c. Heavy Cream
6c. Day Old Banana Bread
In a large bowl combine eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, heavy cream and milk. Mix well. Add banana bread that has been cut into 1 inch cubes.
2) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
3) Grease 12 muffin tins with butter and fill with bread pudding.
4) Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.
5) Remove for tins and plate serve with Banana Cream Anglaise.
Banana Cream Anglaise
Yield 2 1/2 c.
5 Egg Yolks
2c. Heavy Cream
1t. Pure Vanilla Extract
1c. Mashed Ripe Banana
1) Place egg yolks in medium sauce pan with sugar and beat with a wire wisk until mixture becomes thick and lemon colored.
2) Place cream in another sauce pan and bring to the scalding point, right before a boil and remove from heat.
3) Slowly add cream to the yolk mixture while stirring, place on medium heat and stir until mixture starts to thicken. Be careful not to overcook or the sauce will curdle.
4) Wisk in the vanilla and the banana mash in the sauce.
5) Strain sauce through a fine meshed strainer.
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