Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hunting Black Walnuts, Wild Apples, and Barbie's approval

  In the forests, the trees have a thick layer of duff. Duff is decaying plant matter. Essentially the forest self mulches every fall. Despite the drought, it offered a bounty for the wildlife and for those that know where to look. The forests just happen to be really close to good disc golfing areas.

 My husband and Buddy (my husband's clone across the street) have used "going out to get a look" as an excuse often. Amazing how their sight is dependent on how much disc golfing gear they bring with them. We "disc golf widows" tolerate it so long as they bring something back. 

 Buddy's interest in foraging has increased in direct relation to his carb crazed 4 year old daughter's (aka Pip) love of playing Barbies. 

 One of the boys' finds is a crisp, sweet and tart wild crabapple/ apple with pink flesh.
   It is a smaller apple that cooks down to make a wonderful applesauce that needs no sweetening. As it is small, and a shade of pink her Barbie approves, Pip will eat it. 

 Yeah, you heard me. Barbie approved. Thankfully, Pip's Barbie is easily duped.
 Some crazy lady may have told this youngster that fairies come out at night and look through the garden for flowers and leaves. (Barbie Fairytopia = fairies are cool. If You've not experience Fairytopia, consider yourself blessed.) Fairies are in Pip's garden. Flowers that they like get turned into dresses, put in their hair, and used in their houses. That when she finds a flower or a leaf she likes, she takes it and gives the plant a little magic so it can grow more. The magic can even be tasted as it makes things a little sweeter.

 That one tale has spinned off into a lot more. She also thinks the wild fruit is coming from the fairy forest.The little pink fleshed apple is proof of fairy magic as no apple she's ever seen before was pink inside.

 It gets worse. The kid is going to hate me when she grows up and figures it out. For now she thinks she has magic apples because the fairies are proud she's potty trained and didn't have any accidents at nursery school. 

 Bad Anne. Bad. (Although is it really any worse than Santa or the Easter bunny? At least my fairies pimp produce.)

 Meanwhile.. black walnuts are dropping. I had gotten some from DV's stash and added them to zucchini bread and apple crisp. My husband loves them. So he's gathering them everyday on his way home from work. He stops off at the big farm and gets what he can.

 Hulling them is difficult when they are green. Some run over them with their cars. If you find ones that have dark spots where the husk is soft.. get ready for maggots. There is a fly that lays it's eggs on the husk. The maggots eat the husk, but do not get past the shell of the nut. Totally disgusting if you have to hull a bunch that has this pest.

 Gloves, dark towels, and crappy dark clothes are needed when dealing with these suckers. They stain the bejeebus out of whatever they touch. Good thick rubber gloves required! Go for those flimsy latex ones and you'll find out it takes weeks for it to all come off your hands. Even scrubbing your hands like crazy.. wiping them dry is a death sentence for any light colored towels you have. My husband has managed to ruin every single one of my light colored towels. (No surprise they used it as hair dye long ago!)

 Once hulled, we toss them into a big plastic bucket with water and use a drill with a paddle attachment to finish cleaning them up. You want to get as much of the fleshy bits off as you can.

 We toss ours into a milk crate and the next day they are out in the sun to dry. The drying process is otherwise known as "how to make squirrels really fricken happy." They will steal you blind if you don't keep an eye on the walnuts. Ours are set out for just one day and then placed into onion bags. We hang the bags so they can continue to cure for a few weeks.

 If you're lucky to have black walnuts around and want to give them a try, this is a good link for more information.

  We'll get some sleep at some point. Hopefully. Until then, the sound of power tools can be heard eminating from our basement at 2am.         

No comments:

Post a Comment