Monday, 9 September 2013

Walnut - fresh - peeled and skinned.

Whilst walking down from Sas-hegy ('Eagle Mount') in Budapest, I spotted something which I had to guess was a nut tree.  The fruits were just larger than a walnut... and similar to nut-like fruits we see in the UK... it turned out I guessed right...

I could not reach them.
So I moved on.

Then on the fourth day we were talking to someone in a hostel and I pointed out there was a walnut tree in the hostel garden.

I picked a walnut, trod on it to break it open, without breaking the nut... and we tried a piece each...  I think that bitterness is what most people taste, when they find a walnut tree and then do exactly what I do.

But in fact the fruit of the walnut tree is a deliciously creamy taste with no bitterness at all...  Here's what I discovered later on...

1.  The Fruit

The fruit is speckled green with a groove running from front to back.

2.  Peeling

The flesh inside fits snugly against the nut... the juice of the fruit stains your fingers... probably a walnut colour...

Towards this end of the nut, the flesh pulls off easily from the nut, but does not pull off easily from the bottom side where it fills each of the grooves deeply on the surface of the nut.  Perhaps if left to dry it would come away easier?

As the remaining flesh dries on the walnut tough inner surface it is turning a little white...

3.  The Shell

My first attempts to open the walnut I simply trod on it... but this time, with some care... I wish the nut to remain as whole as possible - (in two halves)...

I once spent a good day breaking pine nut shells open to collect pine nuts in order to make a basil pesto... in the Corbieres in the south of France...

So I found a couple of reasonably sized stones and tapped the nut gently, and with each tap a little bit harder... until finally I saw the two halves come apart only a tiny fraction...

4.  Two Halves

The gap was enough to lever a knife in and pull the two halves apart.

I then tried carefully to break off the shell without breaking the flesh of the nut.

Eventually I found the trick... if you push the tip of a blade between the very outer hard shell and the inner pith, then you can lever it outwards and it breaks more easily.  Work around the shell breaking off only the 2-3 millimetres of hard shell.  And then pull away the pith.

I also cut away at the pith carefully with the tip of the knife.

5.  The Walnut Skin

This is the walnut.
This is the warning.

This is the point where the uninitiated, like myself, jumps in and takes a bite.

One person I spoke to said it was the point at which he gave up... He did not realise there was a whole new level...

Not satisfied that the walnut was bitter, I scratched away at this nut and discovered that the skin came off really easily.. but it was quite fiddly.

6.  The Walnut

And this is what the fresh walnut looks like...

Unfortunately I cannot help you with the taste of it.

There is no bitterness.
It has a really delicious creamy taste.

I considered picking many and mashing them up to make walnut butter... or walnut cream..  but I only had the one... and this was prize enough.

Oh how this compares to the dried, bitter tasting browned nuts that are imported from distant countries and that lay dead in our cupboards...

Find a walnut in your cupboard and compare the colours...

Invest in a walnut tree.