Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Black Walnut Processing





Black walnuts are delicious!  If you havn't tried them all you got to do is pick a couple up, 5 nuts would take you 30 seconds to dehusk and put in a bag to dry out.  There are also plenty of uses I don't have time for like adding to henna or fish poisons etc.  But here's how to eat and dye with them


Collecting
  • Almost any black walnut I see has plenty of nuts.  Gather the green and yellow nuts in a container.  Me and my 3 year old gathered plenty without gloves in a short amount of time.
  • If the nuts are already black I they may have absorbed bitter flavor from the husk, plus they're a bit messy for my son to just grab.  But they are the perfect ones to get for dye because they fall apart easily.
  • If you know of a tree near a gravel road or driveway, you might find already hulled nuts ready to be picked up

De hulling
  • As above a tree above a gravel road may have nuts all hulled
  • You can hand hull, but wear gloves because they'll stain your skin black
  • Rolling them around with your feet is pretty quick and easy
  • A corn sheller has been known to de hull nuts quickly
  • Put them on your driveway and drive over them for a week.  You can speed this up if you do a little tire spinning, but it can also break a few of your nuts.


No more hulls

Dry your nuts in an onion bag.  It will take 3-6 weeks depending on conditions.

Not de-hulling
  • If you wan the hulls for dye, just leave them on, the hulls come off easier with age. They will leak dye on things as they dry so be careful.
  • You can dry your hulled nuts by putting them on the floor of some shed you don't use,  in a bucket or cardboard box in the garage, the dye will last all year.  I put mine in a cardboard box in the shed.  Be careful that the dye doesn't leak out on to something you don't want brown.
  • A dried hulled nut is super easy to crush the hull off and use.  Just press on it, no gloves needed.

Cracking the nuts

Before                                                                                                 After

Dying with hulls
  • Walnut dye is fantastic!  Beautiful greens and earth tone browns. 
  • If you are using cotton I would suggest you pre soak with washing soda to help set the dye. 
  • Experiment with different fabrics, some can really absorb a lot of beautiful color.  Buy some of those off color clearance shirts that you would wear if they were a different color.  The above lime green shirt turned out perfectly earthen brown.  I have a baby blue one that turned dark brown except for the threads which stayed blue, sooo cool!!
  • If you want really clean dye, boil your pot of walnuts first till its dark.  Let it cool.  Filter it.  Then re heat to boiling for your dying.
  • I've dyed wax with it, you can dye traps with it, wool etc
  • Here's a great link with complete instructions for dye.  My summary is below http://www.practicalprimitive.com/skillofthemonth/blackwalnutdye.html
  1. Heat up a pot of boiling water
  2. Add hulls, old nuts are ok too.
  3. Bring to boiling again and add your shirts, water needs to be hot to set color
  4. When shirts look good, take them out and rinse thouroughly.
  5. Wash, dry, and wear

The water has to be hot to see this pretty color seep out of the hull!

 The brown one is walnut dyed.  I get different colors of wax from the bees sometimes though so I figured I'd show them off.

 Here's my youtube of me going through the whole process http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUVrB0lzq4c

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