How to Clean and Crack Black Walnuts

Black walnuts on the tree. Image copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress.comJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

The Ozarks are blessed with an abundance of wild food, including the oh-so-delectable black walnut.  Each fall, the huge green fruits come crashing down into parks, yards, and a multitude of public spaces, making them easy game for any wild or urban forager.  Indeed, why pay $5 for a 4 ounce bag of nutmeats when you’ve got black walnut trees around?  That’s just nuts!  The problem most people face isn’t acquiring enough nuts to make it worth their while, it’s the cleaning, cracking and picking that really gets them.  So, if you’ve never done it before because you’ve heard how hard they are to deal with, I hope this post will make the cleaning, cracking and picking of black walnuts just a little bit easier.

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Crafting Herbal Oils & Vinegars

Herbal Vinegars (1)Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~
for Acres USA Magazine

The summer harvest is never truly complete until I have at least a few bottles of garlic chili oil tucked away in the pantry and a handful of spicy golden vinegars gracing the windowsill. These flavorful and versatile condiments are super easy to make and add layers of flavor to your favorite dishes.

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Super Quick and Easy Fruit Jam and Filling

Quick and Easy Blackberry Jam Copyright Jill Henderson via ShowMeOz.wordpress.comJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

Summer and fall are all about harvesting and storing vegetables and fruits.  Our early summer fruit favorites are the bramble fruits, which grow wild and abundantly in our neck of the woods.  Needless to say, I have spent my fair share of  hot summer days hovering over boiling kettles and canners in the effort to put gallons and gallons of fresh berries away for the long term, but not anymore.  If age is any indication of wisdom, I’ve definitely gotten smarter – at least about some things.  Now, I freeze all of our berries in quart-sized freezer bags.  Then, when I need a jar of jam or sweet fruity filling or topping for cakes or pastries, I just whip up exactly what I need in 15 minutes for a super scrumptious and versatile treat!

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Yellow Birch Hobby Farm: Self-Reliant Homesteading

Erin Blegen's KitchenJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz

I love being a writer because I get to meet and learn from extraordinary people like Erin and Josh Blegen. This young couple grow, raise, hunt, and wildcraft a huge percentage of their own food on their small farmstead in the small village of Grand Marais, Minnesota.  One way the Blegens make the most of the very short growing season found around the shores of Lake Superior, is by employing the hügelkultur method of gardening.

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Shiny Beetles, Square Tomatoes and Crafty Coons

Garden late summerJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz

As we near the end of August I am so very thankful for a long and productive season in the garden.  February is when we begin to dream about this day – planting seeds, rooting cuttings, planning rows.  As always, a lot of work has gone into our small patch of organic Eden. Some days were happy, some were frustrating, others were just downright back-breaking.  But in the end, lessons are learned, food is abundant, feeling thankful is prevalent and many, many a dawn has been spent simply inhaling the beauty of a garden in full swing.  And so, as the gardening season here in Oz begins to wind down, I look back on the good, the bad, and the down right weird…

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Healthful Horseradish

Young horseradish. Image via Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress.comJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz
Horseradish is one of those herbs that everyone knows about, but few actually grow. Perhaps that’s because it isn’t used much in today’s cooking, or perhaps because it’s hard to process. And like mint, horseradish has a nasty reputation for overstepping its boundaries in the garden. Yet, for its flaws, horseradish is a pretty perennial that is tough as nails and easy to grow. And not only is horseradish full on flavor, but it is totally jam-packed with health benefits that include fighting cancer, improving cardiovascular health, and even reducing plaque on teeth!

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Seed Saving Time: The Float Test

Tomato seed float test. Image copyright Jill Henderson Show Me Oz.wordpress.comJill HendersonShow Me Oz
Gardeners face many challenges throughout the year, but there is nothing quite as frustrating as planting seeds that don’t germinate well or at all.  You plant and wait.  And then wait some more. All the while precious weeks go by, delaying your carefully planned planting schedule and putting your future crops at risk. I have experienced this a number of times myself. That’s why I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned about the causes of poor germination and a simple test to help reduce the chances of it happening to you. Continue reading