Weekend Harvesting

Autumn is a harvesting season in many ways.  While there are edible things coming into their point of edibility all year round, a large proportion seems set to come to term in as the days shorten and the weather cools.  Some of the stuff that has become ready to eat is right in our yard, with the first passion fruits dropping, and our pomegranates near ready.  In addition our pepper plants have put out a nice bumper of late season fruit, inviting some fun cooking opportunities. However, there is more out there than just what we grow in our yard, and as such, we spent a chunk of this past weekend out and about gathering things.

On Saturday we spent the morning in Asheville, North Carolina gathering black walnuts to an extreme degree.  Black walnuts are a wonderful nut, though they are very tough and take a lot of work to get to the wonderful nut meat. Their shells are some of the hardest plant matter in existence (and ground up are often used for industrial blast cleaning of things like jet engine parts). In addition, the nuts have a fleshy outer layer that needs to be removed before getting access to the nut, generally that removal is done by walnut husk fly maggots, which can be really gross, but is just part of the cycle of the black walnut.  All and all the gathering was a huge success, and we got probably over 200 lbs worth of nuts (which, once shelled, will amount to significantly less nut meat, but still a lot).

Later in the day on Saturday we went to Skytop Apple Orchard in Zirconia, NC to buy a ton of apples and Asian pears.  We could have picked our own, but being pretty tired already (from black walnut harvesting) we opted just to buy a bunch of pre-picked fruit. Someday I’d love to have property with enough land to have some of my own apple trees, but for now they are not entirely feasible for our quarter acre lot.  We do have our own Asian pear, but have not gotten any fruit off of it for the past few years, hopefully we will eventually.

Finally, on Sunday we spent parts of our day collecting hickory nuts and white oak acorns.  Both hickory nuts and acorns are available all over the place.  Hickory nuts can be cracked and boiled to make hickory nut milk, a wonderfully flavorful beverage.  Acorns will be cracked, leeched of tannins, and made into acorn flour which can be used as an alternative to grain flour in a wide variety of recipes.  This is our first year attempting to work with acorns.  We’re optimistic because of success our friends had last year, and are looking forward to working with the flour as an ingredient.

All these harvest require a degree of work, and so a part of what I look forward to with them is collaboration with others in processing and using them.  Food as a means to community engagement seems like a really worthwhile thing to me. I look forward to what we create and discover working through these autumn harvests.

So, a good weekend all around . . . then I got sick, and spent all day yesterday in bed with a nasty sinus cold.  Yeah, that was fun.

Here’s to being health and hoping to spend more time outdoors soon.

~ by Nathaniel on October 15, 2013.

One Response to “Weekend Harvesting”

  1. I’m very interested in making the hickory nut milk! I will have to research that. I hope we have enough to make it worth while. We were out this morning collecting. A little late, but we got a few. http://solidrockfarmblog.com/2013/11/16/nuts-about-hickory-nuts/

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