Why Are Nut Trees Important to Country Tough Homesteaders?

black walnuts eating from the earth foraging free foods homesteading tree nuts wild nuts wildfoods Nov 06, 2023
Harvesting black walnuts

At its most basic level, homesteading is about producing calories. This may be the first time you've heard it stated this way, so let's take a minute to think about it. Most of us came to homesteading because we wanted self-sufficiency; we wanted to provide for our own needs to the greatest extent possible. For some of us, this means raising all our food, and the food our food eats, on varying amounts of acreage. For others, it might mean raising whatever we can in our city backyard or even on a patio.

Wherever we find ourselves, we don't just need food, we need food that sustains and nourishes us, that requires all the macro nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Gardens are great for providing various types of carbohydrates, but we need animal sources for most proteins and fats.

Raising animals is "next level" homesteading, requiring space, housing, protection, feeding, breeding, butchering, and storage of the meat and fat. Not all homesteads are able to provide all of this or can only do it on a small scale, such as keeping chickens or rabbits.

That makes non-animal sources of protein and fat very important. This is where nuts shine. Most areas of the country have native nut trees. Here in Central Missouri, we are blessed with several types: black walnuts, hickory nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and even acorns. We have almost all of these on our homestead, and they're all producing an abundance of nuts right now.

Nuts are an excellent source of fat and protein. One cup of black walnuts, for example, will provide 52 grams, or 80%, of the fat and 24% of the recommended daily value of protein. They are also a great source of Vitamin B6, Magnesium, and fiber. According to WebMD, they are full of polyphenols (plant antioxidants) which help to lower blood sugar. Studies have shown people who consume more nuts are less likely to develop diabetes, have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduced risk of cancer.

Nuts are ready to harvest when they fall from the trees, usually in Sept-October. The easiest way to gather them is with the rolling tool you see me using in the video. Black walnuts will stain your hands, so be sure to wear gloves. Once the nuts are gathered, some will have a husk that must be removed (black walnuts, hickory nuts) before they can be shelled and stored. Nuts can be stored for several months in a cool, dry place or indefinitely in the freezer.

If you don't have any nut trees growing in your yard or on your property, there are usually plenty of people who have them and don't use them. A quick Facebook post will probably result in several people who would be happy to have you come gather the nuts littering their yard.

When it comes to making your homestead Country Tough, be sure to include native nut trees!

https://amzn.to/3SppvwB (Here's the link the my Amazon Affiliate account for the nut picker in the video).

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Country Tough Homesteading Expo 2024