Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bashing things with Hammers

"Hey Robbie," I called out this evening. "Want to come bash things with hammers?"

He joined me in cracking black walnuts in the basement. I scavenged these from the Ballet Academy parking lot earlier this fall.

I remember cracking black walnuts in my Grandmother's basement (Grandma C.), but I don't really remember how we did it. With a hammer? The shells kind of fly everywhere when you whack the nuts--you have to really hit them hard! And it has to be a focused, bouncing kind of hit, or you end up squishing the nut inside.

Robbie spent most of the time getting great ideas for Better Walnut Cracking. The vise worked particularly well. The jigsaw made a pretty half-walnut, but didn't get the nuts out very well. He also contemplated some kind of drill thing and "acid that would dissolve the shell."

I'll make some of those cookies with them like I did last year. Their flavor is really nostalgic for me--Grandma C. made cookies with them; that's probably what I remember.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Saw something interesting on the NPR site on this unique nut and the challenges of coaxing it out of its shell:

Black walnut meats are much smaller than other nuts and are difficult to pick out of the shell, which grows into the meat more than does the shell of English walnuts (which are actually from eastern Europe and Asia). That's why you only see black walnuts chopped and never in more presentable-looking halves.

One reason people let black walnuts lie is that they are literally a tough nut to crack. Aside from using a huller, people find other ways to break them: a rock (hurt hands; swear a lot); a hammer (drill hole in board; whack nut through hole; make black, inky mess); a car (sweet). One guy I work with put them in a cement mixer with rocks for an hour. It made a mess, but it worked well.