Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Black Gold

This is real, true, black gold, black-walnut gold, exquisite, painstakingly shelled and picked, the ultimate nut, dark, rich, and smoky. Black walnut shells are incredibly hard; it’s a mystery to me how anyone can extract nutmeats that are larger than a crumb or a smear.

A sixteen-ounce bag of these fancy babies costs ten dollars (well, $9.99) from Hammons Products.

But my mom knows a fellow in Jeff City who has a contraption that makes the cracking and picking easier, and he produces shelled black walnuts for family and friends. This year my mom bought from him four quart-sized freezer zip-bags, stuffed full. You know what he charged her? Five bucks a bag. Seriously. (Though she insisted on giving him a more than that—you know—just because.)

Mom gets her black walnuts from this gentleman every year, and these nuts go into her fantastic lebkuchen, her billy goat cookies, and lots of other incredible holiday treats. She also shares her black-walnut bounty with her sister in Michigan and (hooray!) with us.

Mom says she’s never, ever, found a piece of shell in this man’s black walnuts.

So am I bragging? No. I’m just saying: This is really, really wonderful, you guys. I rejoice each time I think about these beautiful, tasty, fresh nutmeats, more special than candy.

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