Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled…Walnuts?

Yes, you read that right. And here I thought I was getting all crazy creative by finally making nocino, a walnut liqueur made from green walnuts, something I'd been meaning to do for several years.

The raw material.

But then, wouldn't you know it, my friend (and master forager) Hank Shaw has to up the ante by posting about the pickled walnuts he's making from green walnuts. Seriously? Pickled walnuts? Ack!

Here's what he wrote:

"There may be a few foods that are more English than pickled walnuts, but with the possible exception of fish and chips, I can’t think of one. Chances are, however, you’ve never heard of them. I hadn’t, until several years ago when I ordered the meat-and-cheese plate at a local Irish place called deVere’s. On this place was a black disk. I asked the waitress what on earth it was, and she smiled; she’d had this question before: 'It’s a pickled walnut. It’s good with the cheddar.'

"I followed her advice and stabbed the disk with my fork, adding a bit of cheddar cheese and a bit of cold roast beef to round things out. Wow. It was a bit like eating solid steak sauce, with a little floral aroma and a zephyr of bitterness that just barely let you notice it. I ate another disk all by itself: Fairly soft, puckery and strangely floral. And yes, there was definitely a Worcestershire-Heinz 57-A1-thing going on here. How had I never had these before?"

Starting the brining.

So being someone who can't resist a throwdown like that, particularly since he also mentioned that they're good in beef and lamb stews, in tomato salads—helloooo tomato season—as well as with scallops and shrimp, I decided to give it a whirl and try the recipe he provided in his post. My neighbor's tree was heavy with some perfect green, nutty orbs, so after inquiring politely if I could pick a few, I've started a batch.

Brining took a week, and I've just packed the salty results into quart jars (top photo) to see what happens next. Check back in a month or so to get the full report!

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