Butternut (Juglans cinerea)
The butternut, also referred to as the "white walnut" is an early ripening species in the walnut family. This nut is more oblong and milder tasting than the walnut.
These trees are found in similar habitats to the walnut tree; fields, fence rows, yards, forest edges but we have also found several specimens down along the banks of the New River.
A disease is killing many of the butternut trees across the Eastern U.S. known as the butternut canker. This is a fungal disease that eventually girders the trees. Apparently, field trees with full sun, are less susceptible to this blight.
We have had our eye on this field tree for over a year now. This year we timed it well to be able to harvest about 50 nuts. These were ground collected in the husk.
The ideal processing technique from what we have read:
- Remove husks as soon as possible. A hammer works well to break it apart.
- Allow the nuts to dry for several weeks.
- Crack the nuts and remove the meat. Again, a hammer...
As usual, Samuel Thayer, has a great write-up on the Butternut in his book:
- The Forager's Harvest: A guide to identifying, harvesting and preparing edible wild plants by Samuel Thayer