While Mom and I continue to process the plethora of black walnuts I collected last fall, I happened across a hickory I had picked up and thrown into the basket with the others. I never thought to try one. But when I pulled it out of the basket the other day, it had split open naturally and was just asking to be sampled.
Is there an easier-to-open nut? Just lay it aside and keep it dry and wait for it to open itself.
The nut splits into perfect quadrants.
I'm not sure where I found this one but I remember picking it up, thinking it was too pretty to leave behind. It's a big nut, heavy and armored, but an easy one to get at the meat if you just wait a few months. Winter's deep cold probably helped, too (I keep the nuts I find in the garage in wicker baskets).
This, I believe, is a shagbark hickory and I never checked to see whether it was edible. It is - certainly - and the flavor is strong and walnut-like (it even looks similar). Since I had collected but this one nut, I opened the inner shell and Mom and I shared the heart-shaped meat. Perfect!
Next year I'll keep and eye out and purposely collect these. It'll be nice to have some variety in the nuts we freeze for our many baked goods. No sense in letting the squirrels make off with all of these.