Market Report for May 31st
This Friday evening the Toledo Farmers Market had happy smiling vendors. There was no rain, the sun was shining and a large crowd. What a great night the Toledo Farmers Market had. Vendors that were there with smiling faces were Kristi, Devon, Larry and Karyn, Darold and Ruth, Chuck and Ginger, Dale, Dawn, and Cheryl. New vendors this week were Smokin G's with there delicious pulled pork and smoked brisket, and the Nieland girls with eggs, tomato plants, and perennials. Some of the other items available were radishes, green onions, rhubarb, fresh and dried herbs, dried pepper powder, eggs, pies, breads, rosettes, cinnamon rolls, twisty's, cookies, bars, cabbage plants, homemade angel food cakes, popcorn, honey, bee pollen, ceramics, jams, jellies, and nut meats. Smokin G's will be back on June 14th, be sure to come out and try their sandwiches. If you want to learn about chickens, the Nieland girls will be back with their colorful eggs. They love to talk about their chickens and they also have an awesome book to show you the breeds of chickens. If you haven't been to market yet this year you need to come out and see what I have left out.
There is something for everyone.
The flavor of back walnut meats gives bakery a touch of gourmet. It is often difficult to find black walnut meats. Your in luck, we have them at the Toledo Farmers Market. Chuck and Ginger sell them. They are so delicious and nutritious. During the winter months Chuck gets to pick out the black walnut meats. See a Farmers Market vendor's job is never done. Black walnuts are two inches in diameter and are shaped like basketballs. The trees can be identified by their large compound leaves, alternately arranged on the branches. Each leaf has 15-23 leaflets, the terminal one is often missing. The surface of the leaf is dull with a slightly hairy or downy texture on the underside. Black walnuts are the hardiest walnuts to find, but late spring frosts can reduce their yield. They are usually ready for harvest in early fall, late August through the end of September. But beware, the squirrels may find them first. So don't snooze or your gonna lose. The squirrels can carry off many walnuts in one day. The black walnuts ripen on the tree, and fall to the ground. Once you are lucky enough to harvest the black walnuts, you must husk and cure the nuts for the best flavor. Remove the outer skin of the black walnut, the husk and dry the nuts to cure them. The rule of thumb is two pounds of unshelled black walnuts found in the wild will yield about a cupful of nut meats.
Harvesting the black walnuts is no clean job. As the black walnut ripens, the husk changes from a solid green to a yellowish green. Walnut juice leaves a dark stain. Wearing gloves doesn't necessarily stop the juice from staining your hands. Press on the skin of the black walnut with your thumb, ripe nuts will show an indentation. Often the husk of mature nuts has dried and cracked. You must remove the husks before you store the black walnuts. If you don't as the husks decompose it releases heat, this will discolor walnut kernels and ruin their flavor. After you hull the nut, wash the unshelled nut. Remember black walnut shells can leave stains, so rinsing them outside with the garden hose may be the best choice.
Black walnuts kernels can be affected by insects such as walnut weevils and husk fly maggots. Darker than usual husks may be evidence of insect damage. If you place the nuts in a bucket of water, the nuts without injury will sink. The bad ones will float. Do NOT compost walnut husks. Juglone, a naturally occurring chemical released by all parts of black walnut trees, can have a toxic effect on many vegetables and landscape plants.
Once a black walnut has been properly cured, all you have to do is start cracking. But if you're like me, you just go to the Toledo Farmers Market and buy the black walnut meats. See you at market.