Civic Communications Specialist
2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Springfield, MO 65807
September 28, 2012
Hickory Nuts Can be a Unique Fall Treat to Eat
LAMAR, Mo. This has been a great year for hickory trees in southwest Missouri. Branches are loaded with nuts and many of those branches are now starting to drop their fruit to the ground.
But while hickory nuts don't have the same cash value as walnuts, they are safe for people to eat.
The reason some may think the hickory nut is poisonous is because it is rare to see hickory nuts sold commercially. That may be because it is hard to get the meat from the nut.
According to Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension, there are actually eight species of hickory trees that grown in Missouri. Two of those produce a higher percentage of edible meat: shagbark and shellbark.
The shagbark hickory is identifiable by the "shaggy" bark that peels off in large pieces. The bark of the shellbark tree also comes off the tree in large pieces but it is not as pronounced.
There are several things that need to be done before you can enjoy the taste of a hickory nut.
One, after picking up the nuts from the ground, remove the outer husk and wash the nuts. Allow them to sit out in the sun a few days to dry. The oven can also be used to dry the nuts.
Connoisseurs of hickory nut picking say to use a hammer and a hard surface to crack the nuts. It takes a good hard blow to crack the shell but don't hit the shell so hard that it shatters.
The pieces of nut meat will be small and you'll have to remove them with a nut pick.
One pound of unshelled nuts will give you about one and a quarter cups of nut meat. To roast the nuts, spread the shelled pieces in a shallow pan and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 to 12 minutes stirring occasionally until they turn golden brown.
If you store unshelled nuts in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place they should have good quality for about four months..
Source: Patrick Byers, (417) 881-8909