Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pickled Black Walnut

If you live in Stockfish CA, you probably know the levee along the Calaveras River that runs through the University. I was riding my bike for an eye exam a few weeks ago and passed the stand of walnuts before you get to the I-5 underpass. Did you realize that one set is English, a.k.a. Persian Walnuts and the other Black Walnuts? I know you can pickle the former, but the latter? Well, here's a shot.

First I have to confess, if you look at my recipe for pickled walnuts in the Lost Arts, I think I left out something that might be important. I just poked them with holes and went right into the pickle. They were good, but I think the proper way to do it is to brine for a week, change the water and brine for another, then leave them out until they turn black (which is what you see here) and then go into the pickle. This one was half brine, half vinegar with extraneous spices and some sugar. It should be good. The only thing I'm wondering is if the shells inside will be edible. I passed a knife through, as you can see here, but certainly not as soft as regular walnuts. I also did a batch of those, and poked with pins. THIS time with rubber gloves on! I'll share the after photos in a couple of months, when the weather gets cooler.

UPDATE: The regular walnuts I did are perfect. In the black walnuts, the shells are a bit hard, but the rest is edible. Well, look at the English walnuts. They smell a bit like Coca Cola!  But very pleasantly salty, sour and savory. These would go perfectly with a hunk of cheddar and a pint of bitter.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

somehow it seems important to say that in Britain pickled walnuts begin with green, underripe walnuts-- the shell isn't hard at this early stage.

Ken Albala said...

Yes, That is of course exactly what I'm talking about in June! I hope no one tries to eat a mature walnut shell and all. Signor Anonimo, Have you a recipe?

Elise Fleming/Alys K. said...

John Evelyn, mid-17th-century cook and friend of Samuel Pepys, has two versions of pickled walnuts. The late one in "Acetaria" is easier to read.

“Acetaria”, John Evelyn, 1699; Prospect Books, 1996

#24. Walnuts. Gather the nuts young, before they begin to harden, but not before the kernel is pretty white: steep them in as much water as will more then cover them. Then set them on the fire, and when the water boils, and grows black, pour it off, and supply it with fresh, boiling it as before, and continuing to shift it till it become clear, and the nuts pretty tender: then let them be put into clean spring-water for two days, changing it as before, with fresh, two or three times within this space: then lay them to drain, and dry on a clean course cloth, and put them up in a glass jar, with a few walnut leaves, dill, cloves, pepper, whole mace and salt; strowing them under every layer of nuts, till the vessel be three quarters full; and lastly, replenishing it with the best vinegar, keep it well covered; and so they will be fit to spend within three months.

The earlier version is in “John Evelyn, Cook”, edited by Christopher Driver, Prospect Books, 1997. There is no punctuation.

#308 To Pickle Wallnuts

Take walnuts before they grow hard salt and boyle them when the water coulers shift them do so 3 times scuming them clean when they are little soft wipe them and when cold put them in a wide mouthed glasse or glazed pot laying some dill to cover the bottom then lay a row of the nuts on them strew a handful of salt then Dill so ore nuts salt and dill till the pot is 2 qrs full then put in ginger clove whole mace and peper some garlick then fill it up with the best white wine vinegar and Mustard stop it close and let it stand two or 3 months this makes them as good if not better then Mango being scraped into sauce thickens it[.]

Ken Albala said...

Thanks Elise, I should have thought to look in Evelyn. I've actually never seen a recipe that calls for them to be cooked though. Surprising.

Elise Fleming/Alys K. said...

Were you interested in "preserving" or candying the walnuts? I've seen earlier recipes for those than for actual pickling.

Ken Albala said...

I've done both. Sour and sweet. I'll let you know how they turn out. Ken

RS 2007 Gold said...

Indeed, That's needless to say precisely what I'm discussing in June! I'm hoping nobody tries to eat a mature pine layer and many types of. Signor Anonimo, Maybe you have a new recipke?

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Ken Albala said...

I assume some moronic computer generated this last message, but the larger question is what moron would design such a thing? Seriously, what's the point?

Julianna Schroeder said...

Hi, Ken, I'm intrigued by pickled black walnuts, too! Here in Missouri we have lots of black walnuts (Mo's a top producer of them), and one Mo small business is making and selling pickled black walnuts. I've done a few blog posts about them. Here's the URL for one of them; you can find others of my black walnut posts by clicking the "black walnut" label on this post. Cheers! http://opulentopossum.blogspot.com/2009/06/pickled-walnuts.html

Ken Albala said...

Julianna, THANKS so much. That's a great post. Your black walnuts in Missouri are much more nobbly than ours here. Maybe a different subspecies? IN any case, so nice to know this will work adn that someone's doing it. IS there really a Stockton Missouri? I'm in Stockton CA. I wonder if it's named for the same guy - the Commodore, from NY, near where I grew up.

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