The black walnut, or Juglans nigra, is an extremely tasty and useful wild species. Most people familiar with black walnuts will know the strong flavour of the nut or have dyed their hands black peeling or husking them. Black walnut meats have a tangy, bold, and earthy flavour that is just sublime.
We recommend that you store your black walnut meats in the freezer. The nuts will naturally go through a number of freeze-thaw cycles and the cold temperature helps prevent the oil in the nuts from going off.
Black walnuts can be used in pesto, replacing the pine nuts (some people with nut allergies can eat black walnut). They are spectacular in deserts and in stuffings. Black walnuts are easy to identify, and you can do far more with them than just eat the nut meats. The husks make a great permanent ink and the oils in the skin are a wonderful bug deterrent. Early in the year when the fruit is just emerging, it's the perfect time to make some black walnut fruit pickles. If the fruiting bodies (still in their husks) are tender enough for you to slide a knitting needle through, you are ready to go. First you should place them in brine for a couple of days or boil then briefly and then change the water and allow them to steep in the water for a while to remove some of the slightly toxic naturally occurring chemical Juglone and bitterness. This will help to soften them up in preparation for pickling and result in something really yummy.