Urban Foraging for a Nut Harvest

| 1/22/2014 9:50:00 AM

Erin SheehanFor the past five autumns we’ve watched squirrels devour the hundreds of butternuts that fall from the huge butternut trees in our neighborhood. Butternuts have a high oil content, providing a lot of calories to the squirrels in the form of fat and protein.



The nuts have a large green husk that contains a dye powerful enough that it was used in the mid-19th century to color cloth. Squirrels in our neighborhood sport a dark goatee each October as the dye from the husks stains the fur around their mouths.

Harvesting butternuts is a family tradition. My mom tells me that Grandpa had a stump out back that he used to break them open. The stump had a hollowed out area to hold one nut at a time. He hit each one with a hammer then painstakingly removed the small nut meat from the shells.

This year, rather than watch the squirrels make off with all the bounty, we decided to harvest a few butternuts for ourselves. Wrapped up under our Christmas tree this year I found an industrial-strength nut cracker, from Jim.

1/23/2014 10:18:45 AM

Erin, foraging is kind of a lost art, don't you think? I'm becoming aware of many things right in the city that are edible. Mulberry trees are practically a weed and many people dislike them including me. However, I can see the added value of instead of fighting against them to embrace them and use the berries to add to the food storage. Great jam, jelly, syrup, and even wine can be made from the abundance of berries. I'm finding other Nebraska native plants that are mostly considered weeds can be eaten. In the spring morel mushrooms pop up through out the wooded park areas. I could go on and on but you get the idea. I'm going to see if I can tap into the free food source a little more this year. ***** Have a great Urban Foraging, Homesteading, Self Reliance day.

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