Promoting the growing of tree nuts in Canada, and their use.
|The Tree Nuts of Constance Bay Village, Canada|
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|The Tree Nut||Its Uses||The Nut Tree|
Red Oak acorns
Here is a bag containing hundreds of fresh acorns ready to dry. They will be ready to use in about a month. It ripens in September and October when it falls to the ground. Acorns are harvested off the ground. The ripe brown acorn is about the size of a big marble, with a thin shell and is mostly the bitter, but edible, kernel. The acorn needs to be air dried for several weeks before it is ready for kernel extraction. It is a softshell tree nut so it is not crackable. It is easily sliced in half and the kernel extracted. Learn how to use the oak leaf for making wine. Use the galls to make your own artist's ink
Red Oak kernel
The kernel contains edible oil. It can be used also to make coarsely ground acorn meal (as shown in the picture), a fine flour, a nut milk, a nut butter, and as a medicine. An experiment is under way in the Village to assess both the oil and the acorn meal. Note that as well the leaves (for wines), the caps (for crafts) and the galls (for inks) can be put to good use. Villagers can participate in the experiment. Visit the Red Oak Forest experiment to learn how.
|The red oak tree Quercus rubra|
How many red oaks are there in the Constance Bay Village Red Oak Forest? Almost every homestead in the village has at least one mature tree. There are at least 500 homesteads. So, there are at least 500 producing trees, maybe as many as a thousand or more. It is time to do a survey to count the population, size it up and estimate probable acorn yields. To learn more about the red oaks in the Village, read Wikipedia Northern Red Oak
|Bur Oak acorns
Like the red oak acorn, the ripe brown acorn is about the size of a big marble (here anyway: at the southern edge of its natural range in Texas, the acorn is the size of a golf ball), with a thin shell almost entirely filled with edible kernel. Learn how to use the oak leaf for making wine. Use the galls to make your own artist's ink
|Bur Oak kernel
Most of the acorn's volume is sweet kernel. The kernel is made mostly of carbohydrates with little oil at all. It can be used to make flour/meal or roasted to eat out-of-hand. It ripens in September and October when it falls to the ground. These are high carbohydrate and low oil, so they are treated like chestnuts. Find recipes for these acorns in 'Recipes in a Nutshell'.
|The bur oak tree|
There are at least two mature specimens in the Village, both close to Bayview Drive and in the vicinity of The Point Restaurant. The trees are young, about 50 years old at most, so they have been producing for probably only last twenty years or so. This year 2008, both masted, producing large crops, estimated at a bushel or two of acorns. To learn more about the bur oak, visit Wikipedia Bur Oak.
Beech nuts grow in prickly burs that split open and drop their two triangular nuts. The nut's leathery shells are soft like chestnut shell instead of hard like hazels or walnuts. The burs fall when ripe, already split, so the nuts are easily picked off the ground, in September.
|Beech Nut kernel
Unfortunately, if the beech tree is not growing right beside a large body of water, where the humidity is high, it seldom fills the nut with kernel. The kernel, when present, is oily and easily eaten raw or roasted. If the harvest is large, the nuts can be pressed for their oil. The oil can be used in vinegarettes and maybe in cooking, if the oil can withstand high temperatures. Find recipes for beech nuts in 'Recipes in a Nutshell'
|The American Beech tree Fagus grandifolia|
The beech is a large forest tree. There are many in the Torbolton Forest and in the Village. Most are still young, as is the Torbolton itself, having been cut over recently and plantationed with mostly Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana, a native and natural species for this area. The largest beech I have seen so far, about 30 years old, is on the trail that passes behind the Legion. To learn more about the beech, visit Wikipedia American Beech.
|Beaked Hazel nuts
The native and natural beaked hazels' nuts are smaller than the store-bought varieties. This oily nut ripens on the bush in late August and early September. Pick them off the shrub (it is usually only waist high). Rub off the involucre (the prickly sack that hold the nuts inside) wearing gardening gloves. Store the nuts in the shell in a cool dry place.
|Beaked Hazel kernel
The nuts crack just as easily as store-bought, with an ordinary nut cracker. The kernel has a brown papery seed coat that can be rubbed (it is edible, though). Use the spent shells for compost. Use the kernel same as the store-bought. Eat them raw, or roast them (roasted tastes better). Find recipes for beaked hazel in 'Recipes in a Nutshell'.
|The Beaked Hazel Corylus cornuta|
The beaked hazel is a shrub that grows in disturbed areas. Find the shrubs, waist high, along roadsides and trails in and around the Torbolton Forest. The shrubs are not robust, their stems generally frail. To learn more about the beaked hazel, visit Wikipedia Beaked Hazel.
The black walnut on the tree looks like a green tennis ball, though it may be a little smaller. The soft green is the husk, very useful in itself for making natural dyes and inks. When this husk is removed, a hard nut about the size of the familair walnut emerges. The husk must be removed as soon as the ripe walnuts fall from the tree, otherwise the flavour of the kernel is less tasty. This nut has a thick hard shell. It requires special techniques to crack, but its kernel is well worth it. A mature black walnut tree can produce as many as thirty bushels of whole round walnuts in a good year!
|Black Walnut kernel
The black walnut is considered one of the world's best tree nuts by many master chefs. Its nutty-fruity taste sets it apart from all others. Use it in any walnut recipe - just substitute about a quarter of the walnut requirement for the more robust flavoured black walnuts. Eat them raw, roast them for even more flavour, extract their oil, grind into meal, make flour/starch, make black walnut butter or nut milk. Find recipes for black walnut in both 'Recipes in a Nutshell' and in our Black Walnut Cookbook.
|The Black Walnut Juglans nigra|
The black walnut has not seeded itself in the Village. It is still moving slowly northward from the last ice-age. Trees do not expand their range very quickly, only a few kilometers per century. However, our climate is ready for these trees, and people have been bringing them northward for nearly three centuries. There are some already growing in the village. To learn more about the black walnut, visit Wikipedia Black Walnut.
The butternut is like the black walnut: a hard shell but more oval shaped. The nut has a green sticky husk that is thinner that the black walnut. It need not be removed hastily as is required of the black walnut. It does not decompose, but rather dries to a crumbly skin easily rubbed off. Pioneers put their freshly harvested butternuts under their beds to dry out, out of the way. Then, about winter solstice, the dried nuts would be retrieved. Children would rub off the dry husk and hammer the nuts open for baked treats. Save the powder for use as a naturally colourfast dye for any natural textile. Pick up the ripe nuts off the ground in the fall.
Butternuts when they crack seldom release big kernel. Instead you get bits. These can be handled as any nut bits, in cooking specially. Buttenut is a high oil nut, up to 70%, hence its sobriquet 'butter'. Crack the nuts by hammering the point of the standing nut or put it point to point in a bench vise. Also, there are purpose-made hardshell nut crackers for black walnut and butternut. You could make your own. The oil could be pressed and used in lower temperature applications such as in vinegarettes. Find butternut recipes in 'Recipes in a Nutshell'.
|The Butternut Juglans cinerea|
The butternut is a medium sized tree, rather short-lived, under a century is usual. The largest butternut tree in the world is in Canada's National Capital Region, near the Quebec side of the Champlain Bridge. We here are near the northern edge of the natural range of the butternut. With climate shifting our region may become more hospitable to butternut. However, today there is a fatal disease attacking butternut over its entire range and the butternut is likely to become rare or worse. The tree should be encouraged in case one young seedling turns up having resistance to the disease. To learn more about the butternut, visit Wikipedia Butternut.
The horsechestnut is grown in these parts for its beautiful late spring flowers, some white, other yellow and even red This is true for the rest of the buckeyes, too. The nuts look like big commercial chestnuts once ousted from their husk, often prickly. Found on the ground in early fall and easily popped out of the already splitting husk. Use the husk for dyeing.
Generally, these nuts are not edible, as they contain an glucoside called aesculin. However, some say they are eaten by horses and cattle with good benefits. It may also be possible to remove the aesculin by boiling in changes of water. If this is readily do-able, then these nuts offer considerable carbs for your effort. Such a paste may have many culinary uses (in India their species A. indica is used to make halvah - could this be done here?). However, remember the beautiful flowers! We have no recipes for any of the buckeyes, though maybe in the future...
|The Horsechestnut Aesculus hippocastanum|
The tree is medium sized, not native nor naturalized (however, several of the North American buckeye species may be candidates). The palmate leaves are also spectacular. The tree is an ornamental in the Village and elsewhere. To learn more about the horsechestnut, visit Wikipedia Aesculus.
The nuts are walnut like, half way between black walnut and persian walnut in appearance, still thick shelled but not so rough. The developing nuts grow in clusters, looking a lot like butternuts (but not sticky.) Pick them off the ground in the fall and process them as for butternuts or walnuts.
|Japanese Walnut kernel
The kernel is of our North American walnut character, and accessible in bits also, due to the hard cracking. Find butternut and black walnut recipes suited to Japanese walnut in 'Recipes in a Nutshell' and in our Black Walnut Cookbook.
|Japanese Walnut Juglans ailantifolia|
The Japanese walnut has spectacularly large walnutty leaves, so makes a beautiful shade tree. And grows those tree nuts too! To learn more about the Japanese walnut, visit Wikipedia Japanese Walnut.
|American Sweet Chestnut
The nuts grow in very prickly burs as big as tennis balls. The prickles are so fine that it can even hurt just to set one down gently into the open palm of a hand. However, gloves win. The whole bur usually falls to the ground when the nuts are ripe. They maybe already be splitting, revealing the nuts inside. Open them with gloved hand to extract the nuts. Let the nuts air dry for a few weeks.
|American Sweet Chestnut kernel
The nuts are leathery like other chestnuts. Peel them to extract the kernel. This kernel is regarded as the premier chestnut in the world for flavour and sweetness. Use it as you would other chestnuts but remember its superoir qualities when choosing quantities.
| American Sweet Chestnut Castanea dentata|
Once the dominant tree in eastern North America (pre-columbus, 3 of every 5 forest trees was a chestnut: many critters specially humans made big use of the nuts). However, its wood got noticed and so was wisely used for quality items that you had to kill the tree to make, so that's what was done. Then, about a hundred years ago an oriental disease snuck into new York and hammered the tree almost to extinction in a few decades. Folks that thought both trends should be reveresed spent several decades themselves trying to make resistant trees. They have succeeded, so maybe we should start planting these trees in the Village. To learn more about the american sweet chestnut, visit Wikipedia American Sweet Chestnut.
|Korean Pine Nuts
AKA, the 'white pine of Asia', it produces many of the pine nuts gotten in local stores (most still come from the Pinus edulis in the American southwest.) The nuts are produced every year in sticky cones, tricky to open, but there are ways. Once the cones open, the seed are nutty and fall out. Crack the nut and you find the pine nut inside looks familiar.
|Korean Nut Pine kernel
The kernel is the pine nut, so use accordingly. Here are some recipes for pine nuts, in 'Recipes in a Nutshell'.
|Korean Nut Pine Pinus koraiensis
This tree could grow well in the Village as it likes the same conditions as our white pine which already can be found around the village. The two kinds of trees are hard to tell apart. To learn more about the Korean Nut Pine, visit Wikipedia Korean Nut Pine. There are two native Canadian tree nut pines that could do well in the village, namely the Whitebark pine and the Limber Pine, both mountain pines in British Columbia. See Wikipedia Whitebark Pine and Wikipedia Limber Pine to learn more.