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Author Topic: Hickory nut ID tool  (Read 435 times)

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Online mike_belben

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Hickory nut ID tool
« on: October 22, 2021, 11:56:40 PM »
Vanderbilt has an excellent hickory identifier. 


Carya fruits (hickory nuts)
Isaiah 63:10

Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2021, 06:11:20 AM »
This one is a keeper. I am bookmarking this because I know I will need it again. Thanks Mike.
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2021, 10:09:38 AM »
Recently I picked up a bunch of smaller slick bark hickory nuts with a grand daughter in our woods. They are varied species of hickory. We also have many large mature shagbark hickories, none of which ever haver any nuts to harvest for me or the squirrels? Why don't my Shagbarks ever have nuts? They are healthy, often fairly close by for pollination and mystifies me! Before we bought this land we rented an old farmhouse maybe 6 miles away that had a big shagbark which yielded large tasty nuts. I've also picked up smaller nuts that were even better flavored than the big ones.  
I disagree with the link that the largest hickory nuts have the better flavor. I used to pick up small hickories on a campus that were by far the best flavor of any I've found- the university cut it down as people complained about the nuts on the sidewalk?  As for pecans that's a personal preference choice. 
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Offline WDH

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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2021, 11:23:20 AM »
IDing hickory just from the nuts is difficult in that you can determine that the nuts falls into several groups but within the group, the nuts of that group can be so similar that you cannot break them down further definitively without leaves or bark characteristics.  

Still, the key in the link is very helpful. Questions that need answering:

1).  Does the husk open all the way to the base so that the nut is released from the husk naturally?

2).  Does the husk only open partway such that you have to peel or use some mechanical means to get the nut out of the husk?

3).  Is the nut husk thick like 1/4” thick or thin like 1/8” or thinner?

4).  Does the nut have wing-like ridges on it or is the nut smooth?  
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Offline lxskllr

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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2021, 03:39:26 PM »
Hickory nuts are a fairly new found joy for me. I only ate my first last year. Never really considered them before. I assumed they were harsh or had some other problems like acorns do. AFAIC, they're the finest native nuts available in America. A shame they're so hard to eat.

Offline beenthere

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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2021, 06:37:52 PM »
Hickory nuts are a fairly new found joy for me. I only ate my first last year. Never really considered them before. I assumed they were harsh or had some other problems like acorns do. AFAIC, they're the finest native nuts available in America. A shame they're so hard to eat.
Crack them first.. ;) ;)
After cracking (hammer or vise), then using side cutter (dikes) to nip the shell to release the nut meat is much faster than using a nut pick. 
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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2021, 06:56:20 PM »
In my young and foolish days I tried to crack mockernut hickory nuts and pick out the meat.  The meat was delicious but almost impossible to remove from the shell with any efficiency.  That is why the Native Americans smashed the nuts and boiled them and then skimmed off the oil.  
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Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2021, 10:44:20 PM »
I have a firend who is a young local forester who grew up in the woods around here and tries everything at least once. ;D He has a recipie for making hickory butter that has become one of his go-to's. It's quite simple and can be found HERE. He loves the stuff. I had hoped to try it this year, but I just could not beat the squirrels to enough of the nut to make it worthwhile for me. But I keep looking, they are just about all gone here now.
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2021, 08:46:23 AM »
I use the same cracker as used for black walnuts on hickory nuts. It's made from cast aluminum and a child or any granny can crack the toughest nut on the kitchen table and easily. Has a radiused rack gear on top and exerts tremendous force. If you google "black walnut nut cracker" it comes up as a lever type cracker and sold by several places including Starks. It's not what I use for pecans though as my Texas Cracker  is far better. It uses rubber bands to what pecans and mostly halves as a result.
You'll also see common "rocket style" pecan crackers listed as walnut crackers. They are in no way capable of cracking a black walnut! The cracker will break before you'd get anywhere. 

Notice I didn't say that you'll have hickory nut halves falling out as they are not easy to pick out the meats. Lots of work for black walnuts , butternuts or hickory nuts. 

I was looking on FB Marketplace yesterday after reading this thread for hickory nuts for sale. There are pictures of large PA Shellbark nuts already cracked with halves that look exactly like an English Walnut half. I gotta say that I've never found a tree like that one!

Hickory nuts are best used in cookies IMO. My wife has a refrigerator cookie recipe that unlocks their flavor through the baking of the cookie. It far exceeds any pecan in that respect and lacks the bitter flavors we get from black walnuts. Black walnuts I like out of hand but eating too many might cause you issues-HA! Black walnuts go best with sweet stuff like ice cream, icings and cakes while hickory nuts are much milder and best used same as a pecan.

 Butternuts are milder than black walnuts but IMO best used in similar ways as they still have that bitter aspect.
 
In my FB nut look & see yesterday I ran onto the step-dad of the 14 yr old boy who I've used to work for me recently, who was selling a 5 gallon bucket of shellbark hickory nuts hulled and sorted for worm holes for $30. We had just got back from a hike on our place scouting our hickory trees and I was late to that party only finding a few leftover nuts. I called him and bought the bucket as he was selling them to raise money for his dad who has bladder cancer. The tree where he picked them up is in his Dad's yard down the road from his own house. I just had eye surgery so not allowed to pick up over 25#'s so split them into two buckets and poured them out onto my screened in porch to cure and dry. 
 
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Online mike_belben

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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2021, 09:15:52 AM »
Ive got a 5 gallon bucket of black walnut and maybe 3 gallons of hickory. and that was just cherry picking the nicest from one tree on the walnut and my half of one fencerow hickory.  Bumper crop.
Isaiah 63:10

Offline lxskllr

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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2021, 09:33:21 AM »
I have tons of black walnut this year. I've been thinking I should try cracking one and revisiting it. My impression from the past was I didn't care for them much, and of course *they're a hassle to crack. Maybe my tastes have changed, and I'll like them better now  :shrugs:


*My father had to go to the hospital *twice* for burned hands from shelling walnuts. He had a reaction to the chemicals in the hulls. It didn't happen immediately. It was cumulative, and heavy exposure that did it. Just mentioning so y'all can have care shelling them. Might be a good idea to wear gloves.

edit:
I have to reassess my opinion of black walnut. About 75% as good as hickory, but much easier to shell, though messy. Tastes a bit like apple. I still prefer English walnut. Flavor is simple, but good, and I can crack those with my bare hands. I was outside burning brush, and ate a few walnuts.

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2021, 09:33:54 AM »
Walnuts are hulled by most people via laying them in a driveway for a week or so but of course the squirrels can go after them. Once roughly hulled, then wear nitrile mechanics gloves-heavy ones! to finish, then place in a wheelbarrow with enough water to float the bad ones which you throw away. 
(FWIW, the hulls make a VG wood water based stain also used by weavers.) I can attest that walnut hulls toughen your hands and takes weeks to go away!
I think I read that Butternut hulls are used for a more yellow stain? 
 It does work to float them! At that point you MUST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! cure black walnuts or hickory nuts-any nut in fact prior to them being ready to crack and eat or store. My stash of hickory nuts is now on my screened in porch to dry and cure. Green black walnuts give you the shits, to put it bluntly.
The walnut processors who sell to the guys in KC, MO the hulls are more valuable for balsting than are the nut meats, so I've read.   
Black walnuts are best used in items such as cake icing, ice cream and fudge, etc., as the intense sweetness offsets the bitter aspect of the nut meats.

 Like I've said- I have never liked English walnuts to eat by choice preferring every other nut. 
 
Theres a guy here in KY named England? who has a tree nursery and sells trees he grafts-including hardy pecans, etc. I think he sells Heartnuts which I've never tried? 

As I covered above-black walnuts and hickory nuts are very easy to crack, but only with the proper cracker. 
Picking out meats is far more intensive, especially hickory.
 
Yesterday we went for a hike on our place. Up high on the ridge there are several large walnut trees and huge green nuts either still on the tree or fallen and untouched by squirrels? The hickories nearby-they have pretty much cleaned up though, leaving the walnuts to lay. I've never seen a squirrel that passed up a walnut? 

Another little trick for a household "decor item" is to take a wire wheel to a pile of black walnuts after hulling & drying them. They sort of burnish up and it shows the texture off for display in a wooden bowl. I first used it when selling turned wooden bowls as a display technique. 
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Online mike_belben

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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2021, 10:01:04 AM »
Apparently hulling walnuts is a thing in michigan.  Theyve got all kindsa sweet home made junk to shell them.



@kantuckid

I think this is the original you are referring to, out of missouri
Walnut Nut Cracker
Isaiah 63:10

Offline WDH

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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2021, 03:50:17 PM »
Lots of juglone there, for sure.  
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2021, 09:29:23 AM »
Apparently hulling walnuts is a thing in michigan.  Theyve got all kindsa sweet home made junk to shell them.



@kantuckid

I think this is the original you are referring to, out of missouri
Walnut Nut Cracker
That's same cracker I have though mine is maybe a Chinese clone? I've had for some years. I've seen another one that's steel. Sure beats a shop vise and cheater handle!  
 I just tried to answer my previous question about hickory pollination. Google source says Shagbarks are a every third year bearer. It also said that even though hickories have male & female flowers on each tree they are not considered self pollinating as they depend on the wind for that to happen. It also said hickory nuts are ready for humans to eat as soon as they drop. I disagree with that as they are rubbery when green but they do taste ok green.  
 The hickory tree in front of my house is far older than 50 years yet has never had a nut on it ever and I see it right out the picture window on my right shoulder so handy to see. It used to drop leaves into a 15' above ground pool beside it, so we know it well. Why no nuts? It's ~ 75' tall, ~ 16" DBH, straight and healthy. 
The folks who buy walnuts might hull some for you when they had time, never asked them as it's cheaper gas wise to drive on them a few days then using nitrile gloves, pull off the rest.  We have one tree down by mailbox that drops nuts in a creek and on pavement but leans over pavement toward sun. They get mostly hulled by traffic from idiot teenagers across the road in HS parking lot :D
I grew up around Plains Potawatomi folks in KS. Never saw a walnut "NUT" buyer in KS like here in KY? 
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Re: Hickory nut ID tool
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2021, 08:56:56 AM »
Hickory s monoecious which means it has both male and female flowers on the same tree as you said, as do most trees.  The reason the tree cannot self pollinate is that the male flowers and female flowers on the same tree do not mature at the same time.  On some trees the male flowers mature first and on other trees the female flowers mature first.  That way it still takes two to tango.  
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