Towards the end of the summer and all through the fall nuts and alike are in season.
when you stroll through the forests and fields its next to impossible not to run into a tree that is heavily loaded with the yummy treats.
Many Germans have nut trees in their yards too and collect them to keep them for baking and snacking during the long winter months. There are several different kinds of trees that will supply you with a plenty full bounty, so lets get to know them.
The common Walnut
The common walnut, is an Old World walnut tree species native to the region stretching from the Balkans eastward to the Himalayas and southwest China.
Walnuts are typically harvested late August through September, and make a great addition to the frugal pantry (It’s hard to argue with free food). So, grab some buckets and unleash your inner squirrel on a tree near you
Walnuts will keep in the shell for several months. Store in a cool, dry place for best results. I prefer Burlap bags to store them in.
The European Hazelnut
Hazelnuts can be grown in the home landscape as a tree or a shrub. Hazelnuts can be eaten raw or chopped up and added to recipes such as breads or muffins. Harvest your hazelnuts in the fall when they begin dropping to the ground.
Shake the branches of the hazelnut tree gently. Any nuts that are ready will fall to the ground.
Collect nuts from the ground and place in a large container.
Fill the container with water until it is 2 inches deeper than the nuts. Any nuts that float to the top should be discarded. Remove the nuts from the water immediately and spread them out in a single or double layer on a towel or cookie sheet. Once dry move the hazelnuts into a large burlap bag and tie the end. The sack will help protect the nuts from pests.
Store unshelled hazelnuts in the burlap bag at a temperature of 34 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Shelled hazelnuts can be stored in a sealed container at 65 to 70 degrees for several weeks, or frozen for over a year.
One of the great features of fall is the ripening of beechnuts.
Incidentally, each of the little inner nuts will show three sides, one of which is more flat than the other two.
Before the inner nuts are dry, this flat side can be removed by placing the thumbnail or knife blade under the base of this flat side and lift it off to reveal the kernel. Kernels often fit so snugly that the firm sides of the inner nuts appear swollen. The swollen sides of an inner nut are a sure-fire sign that a tasty treat awaits inside. But nuts that are not swollen still can offer great little nuggets.
The best way to harvest beechnuts is to pick them off the trees before they start to fall naturally.
Although it is easier to extract the tiny kernels before the nuts lose all of their moisture, the meats of well-dried nuts are more crisp (and perhaps more tasty). Roasting the nuts in an oven or on the top of a wood-burning stove also produces good results.
Beechnut meats will add zip to salads and many other dishes.
The European chestnut
Chestnuts are mature when they fall naturally from the tree. The nuts ripen in September and October over a period of about two to four weeks. Wait for the chestnuts to fall to the ground.
Edible chestnuts have a husk that is covered with sharp, stiff bristles. The husk splits to reveal two or three nuts. The leaves are three to seven inches long, with sharply toothed edges. The origins of the leaves alternate along the stem. Gather up all of the nuts with open burrs. (You’ll definitely want gloves for this job.) Remove the nuts from the burrs, and discard any with worm holes or other signs of damage, promptly store the chestnuts in air-tight containers, and refrigerate or freeze.
In-shell chestnuts will keep in the refrigerator for a month or in the freezer for a year.
It’s important to know your chestnuts. Take care not to eat horse-chestnuts, which are poisonous.
They are covered with a leathery, sometimes spiny fruit capsule, which contains two or three glossy seeds or nuts. The leaves originate from the same point and are divided like a fan into 5-7 large, toothed leaflets, which are four to 10 inches long.
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