First Pick Your Nuts

12 Oct

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It’s Autumn, it’s walnut season and my chum, artist Melanie Ezra, has discovered some walnut trees near her home. She gave me some she picked. I read somewhere that walnut skins make very good ink, so I’ve started to prepare them. I have an allergy to walnuts, they interfere with my breathing, so I wore rubber gloves, which is a good idea anyway because a dark brown liquid oozes out as soon as the skin is pierced and it stains.

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I cut the skins out and then scrubbed the nuts to remove the mushy brown stuff that was sticking to them. It was hard to remove so I rubbed them hard with a metal scourer. Although the skin and pulp are fairly soft, the nuts are hard and wrinkled.

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You can see how much they stained the yellow gloves. Tomorrow I’ll be putting the skins into a slow cooker to extract the ink.

11 Responses to “First Pick Your Nuts”

  1. mrsdaffodil October 17, 2014 at 19:01 #

    Very enterprising of you, to go through all this. I just buy the stuff from an art supplier. I saw a squirrel passing by my window yesterday, with a large walnut stuffed in his (her?) mouth, green husk and all. The squirrel deposited the walnut in one of the holes left by my dandelion digging efforts (yes, I know I should fill the holes). Maybe I’ll have a walnut tree one day!

  2. Nancy Farmer October 13, 2014 at 11:34 #

    very interesting! Didn’t know you could do that with walnuts.
    If you find some oak apples (oak galls, of course, not apples), you can make iron gall ink – always wanted to try that, too and only lately realized that the only other ingredient that you need – ferrous sulphate – I have a large box of, and only use a teaspoon now and then in a sporadic attempt to make a certain rhododendron bush happy which I have got. Unfortunately I’ve not seen oak galls for years – don’t seem to walk past any oak trees.

    • Rosie Scribblah October 13, 2014 at 12:04 #

      John Pindar and I were saying that we haven’t seen galls for a long time. Wonder what’s happened to them?

      • Nancy Farmer October 13, 2014 at 12:31 #

        Yes I saw that afterwards. They are made by a kind of insect – perhaps the insect is in decline? Though like I say I just don’t seem to go past oak trees around here – used to when i lived in Suffolk and there were oak galls on them: I remember it distinctly because my partner, sister, and brother in law were all there on a walk one time and they stopped and said what are those and all denied ever having heard of such things!!

  3. notes to the milkman October 13, 2014 at 08:24 #

    Have you ever tried using oak galls? That’s meant to be a traditional one but I haven’t seen any galls for years.

    • Rosie Scribblah October 13, 2014 at 09:28 #

      No I haven’t seen any for years either. I wonder why? They used to be very common

  4. allesistgut October 13, 2014 at 07:49 #

    How interesting to extract ink from walnut skins. I’m really excited to see more! Have a happy Monday!

    • Rosie Scribblah October 13, 2014 at 08:14 #

      Thank you. I think it’s going to be a messy Monday 😊

  5. Mary Donato October 12, 2014 at 23:32 #

    I’ve always wanted to try this! I’ll be watching to see how you do it. I think I can scavenge some walnuts from trees in the neighborhood. So, it’s the husks on the outside that you stew?

    • Rosie Scribblah October 13, 2014 at 00:34 #

      Yes that’s right. There’s another method where you leave the husks to rot, but that takes a long time and smells 😊

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