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Sep 26, 2006 06:46 PM

Walnuts off the tree

On my way home there's a walnut tree growing by the street. Should I have any concern about eating the nuts? They are reaching the point where the rinds are splitting and the shells look clean and healthy which I believe means they are ready. I think it's fine to just eat them, but was just wondering if there are any issues. The tree is outside the back fence of a closed business.

I should know the answer to this question since I grew up with walnut and almond trees in the backyard, along with a Noah's Ark of fruit trees.

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  1. I don't know about SF but up here in TO, edible Walnut trees don't grow and what you see are inedible Black Walnuts. I would wan't to be sure that I could identify which is which before eating them.

    1. I hope that you are talking about the American black walnut, as the "English" or Persian walnut is the common nut meats that are found in grocery stores.
      This is what I found about the edible Black walnut.

      FAMILY: Walnut
      HEIGHT: 80 TO 100 ft.

      Black Walnut is a prized hardwood. The brown, fine-grained wood is used for gun stocks, furniture, and cabinets. Black Walnut is a tree of rich, open woods and roadsides and has often been used as a shade tree. The large, fragrant leaves have 15 or more leaflets, each finely toothed and ending in a llong point. They are smooth above, hairy below.
      The round nut grows in a thick green husk, from which the pioneers made a brown dye. It has a dark, irregular, hard shell that is hard to crack, but the sweet, edible, very distinctly foavored kernel makes the effort worthwhile.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Kelli2006

        It might be Black Walnut. The nut was in a thick green husk, but the shell was a light brown and didn't seem that hard. The nut looked exactly like what I see in SF Bay Area grocery stores. I know for a fact that edible walnut trees grew in the area in the 60's because we had one and we ate them. Whether this is the same kind of walnut, I don't know, but this tree is in the same part of town.

      2. We had black walnuts everywhere when I lived in the Midwest. The most distinctive feature of the nuts was that they dropped everywhere in fall and left big black stains. The tree is high in juglone, a chemical that is toxic to certain plants which can't grow near the roots. It was well known that tomatoes would die if you planted them close to black walnuts. I tried to pry one of the nuts open but gave up in disgust when my hands turned black so I never got any nuts from the many trees which regularly stained the driveway, walkway and house. The nuts are supposed to have great flavor and are very expensive, probably because harvesting them is such a pain.

        If you do a google search you'll find drawings and photos of the leaves which are distinctive.

        1. Hope you get some good info because I found a seedling that I found growing from the nutshell when we bought this house. I moved it to a more convenient place and this year — 9 years later — it has it's first green pods.

          I opened one and cleaned it away from the walnut shell we're familiar with. When I opened it there was a nut that looked very familiar but had a consistency that was like cartilage and not so much flavor of any kind. I'm guessing some kind of roasting is needed. If anyone knows how that's done and how to remove and clean up the walnut shells efficiently I'd be so grateful to learn about it.

          We're in Woodland HIlls in the San Fernando Valley area of greater Los Angeles. This valley was once almost completely orchard for things like citrus, fruits and nuts.

          1. I asked a walnut grower at the farmer's market and he said that what I have is probably an "English" walnut. The nuts off the tree look exactly like the ones he sells. Light brown shell that doesn't look too thick. I'm thinking about incorporating them into a sauce made from tomatoes in my garden.