September 09, 2013
Black Walnut for Food and Supplies - 4
by Tim MacWelch
You’ll find tall and stately black walnut trees (and their cousin the butternut walnut) growing wild throughout much of the central and eastern U.S. They’re particularly noticeable in the fall when their green-brown-black, tennis-ball size nuts begin littering the ground. The rough round husks turn from green to a very dark brown as they lay on the ground in autumn. These native trees have provided people with food, medicine, dye, and beautiful wood for centuries. Here are just a few of the valuable things that these trees can deliver.
Medicines and Dye
To make a dye, crush a gallon of husks and soak them in a gallon of hot water. If the husks were still green, you’ll end up with a bucket of yellowish-brown dye. If the husks have already turned black, your dye will be dark brown. I have a buddy who made his own camo t-shirts by tie dying some regular white cotton T’s in black walnut dye. They turned out great, revealing a very unique camouflage pattern in a nice shade of cocoa powder brown.
This is a new one for me, but an old timer I spoke with yesterday indicated that walnuts predict the upcoming winter weather. Bigger walnuts indicate that a rough winter is impending, while smaller walnuts indicate a mild winter to come. With the generous size of this fall’s walnut crop (plus the almanac prediction), it may be wise to cut a little more firewood while the weather is good — just make sure it’s not walnut wood.
Do you have another use for black walnut or another way to get the husks off? Let’s hear it in the comments.