Processing Eastern Ontario's Wild Black Walnuts for Storage: Page 1 of 3

The black walnut tree Juglans nigra now grows extensively in Eastern Ontario, Canada, and continues to spread throughout the region. To learn about this species, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juglans_nigra. Our website explains how Hank and Vera Jones of Constance Bay Village in the City of Ottawa, Canada, process their harvest of local wild black walnuts. The Nut HullerThe nuts are gathered off the ground into buckets, then transferred into feed sacks. As a general rule, all tree nuts in our region are picked off the ground. Until they fall, the nuts are not ripe. So, even the biggest of nut trees is easy to crop.

We thank the Heart and Soul Cafe in Dunrobin, Ontario for graciously allowing us to harvest the black walnuts from their magnificent black walnuts trees!
previous next Page 1 of 3. The first four of twelve images total.
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The fresh black walnut nut is botanically a drupe. That is, it has a soft outer husk which contains a stone seed. This husk must removed promptly on harvest, otherwise the taste of kernel of the nut goes off. This machine, called 'The Nut Huller', was developed by Hank Jones and Mark Jones at Alcon Welding in Ottawa during the early 1990s. Its job is to separate the husk from the nut inside, to yield two useable products: the husk for dyeing and the nut for food and others uses.
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The machine show on the left is the original prototype, still working! It is built from a discarded 40-gal water heater tank. The machine above was the last commercial model built. In operation, the whole nuts are poured into 'funnel' continually as the machine runs. The husk drops out the bottom, as the 'cleaned' nuts travel to the opposite end and fall from the 'shoot'. The fastest model processes about ten bushels an hours. It uses about one kilowatt hour, per hour.
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The gray squirrel, a seasoned urbanist, works with us on the black walnuts. She plants hers out, while we hull ours. We expect she may find up to 80% of what she plants, even in winter. We have learned that squirrels achieve a notably higher germination rate than humans planting black walnuts. They also know where to plant so the seedlings do better. We have also noted that when the squirrels (and mice too) eat the nuts, they know exactly when to gnaw to get all the kernel while making the smallest hole. Very efficient. This is true for individuals who have never seen a black walnut before!
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The processing begins. The machine is running as the nuts are slowly poured into the funnel where they drop down to the moving paddles inside. The rubber paddles throw the whole nuts against 'huller bars' on the inside wall where the husk is knocked off. The husk parts drop to the bottom and out through the grate into the basins below. Meanwhile the nuts, which do not fit through the grate gradually move towards the rear of the machine. The de-husked nuts eventually fall out the 'shoot' at the end into their own separate basin. In the picture, note the husk under the middle of the machine, and the nuts accumulating on the basin at the end. As this particular machine is the prototype, it is not very 'tidy' about where the husks fall!
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All photographs, Vera Jones 2011