Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Mar 19, 2007 06:40 AM

Hickory nuts from a neighborhood tree

I discovered a Shagbark Hickory tree a few blocks from me. Very mature tree and amazing looking. I looked it up and read that the nuts mature in the fall and are "delicious". If I can beat the squirrels to them, is there a special treatment for getting them ready to eat? Roasting, maybe? Thanks, as always.

Here's a picture:

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think you can eat them raw, like a walnut or peacan. We had some in the woods near our house when I was a kid. From what I remember the problem with them is they area very hard to crack open and not a lot of nut meat to eat, but they do taste good right out of the shell.

    1. Oh, Pat, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. Unless it's different from the Hickory nuts I found last year, you are going to spend 3 hours to pick out 1/2 cup of nut meat. Interesting flavor, I made a small quickbread from mine.

      1 Reply
      1. re: danna

        I pretty much figured that'd be the case, just from looking at the picture with such a thick shell. But even a small quick bread studded with a few nuts from this tree would delight my grandson. Thanks to you and Jackrugby for taking the time to educate me.

      2. Pat- them's mighty fine eatin'. A bit of work but they are the best nuts out there. Shagbark Hickory nuts are the best of the hickories and one of the easiest to shell, relatively speaking. Other types are more difficult and have less meat.

        Let them dry and "age" for a week to ten days after collecting them from the ground. This makes them easier to shell and the nut has a better taste to it. Shelled nuts should be kept in the fridge or freezer so they don't go rancid.

        By the way, there is a special type of nut cracker that used to be made specifically for these nuts. It's the same type used for pecans which are in the same general type of tree. There are even electric pecan nutcrackers. If you do a search under pecan nutcrackers or hard shell nutcrackers you will see tons of different types.

        Otherwise a hammer works pretty well. You get the feel for how hard to hit after awhile. But one of the easiest ways to open them is with a vice. I can't remember whether you put the nut in sideways or end to end, but then you just gently close the vice and if done right they crack pretty easily. It just takes more time, but less effort.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JMF

          Glad you weighed in. Getting them before the squirrels do, will be quite a trick here. Aging them can be done on newspapers on the floor, I guess, right? Thanks very much. I'm ready for Spring, but will look forward to a nutty Fall. pat

        2. Try making cookies out of them, as well. Very delicious, though just eating them freshly toasted is hard to beat.