Wow, is it spring already? Back to foraging and letterboxing, it has been a long and lazy winter. We are looking forward to adding some more plants to our foraging knowledge. We are looking forward to trying Japanese Knotweed, common Milkweed, more greens in spring, and more roots. Nettles are just starting to appear, and we have a planter of them in the house that we forced last month. It was nice to get some fresh nettles for soup. The tiny patch of ramps we have planted behind our porch is also starting to appear, a good sign that they will be available in the wild soon. We are actively watching several patches of the Japanese Knotweed. This will be our first experiences with this plant. We are planning on eating it steamed, in a pie, and making a jam with it.
We have had some black walnuts (Juglans nigra) drying all winter, and on a nice sunny day we took them outside to crack open. There is a tree next to our house, and we picked up a bucketful last autumn. The tree is identified by greyish-brown, deeply furrowed bark. The leaves are compound, made up of many smaller lance-shaped leaflets, arranged alternately along a stem.
The nuts are inside a thick green husk that must be removed, and is often infested with worms. You should wear gloves to remove the husk, as it will stain everything it touches. Inside is the deeply furrowed nutshell. It is best to wash the nuts and scrub them with a wire brush at this point to remove any leftover husk. The nuts are easier to remove from the shell after they have aged and dried awhile. Robert used the backside of an axe to crack them open and picked out the meat. Gillian ate the nutmeat almost as fast as it was shelled! The flavor is different from commercial walnuts, and black walnuts have a very high oil content. The nutmeats can be added to recipes, eaten raw, made into nut butter, or boiled to obtain the walnut oil. We just ate them raw as a treat.