shagbark hickory nuts

hankjrfan(6a)August 8, 2008

anyone save and eat these?

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I've never heard of them. What are they?


    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 8:27PM
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i'm sorry, i forgot to mention they are nuts. the shagbark hickory produces nuts. lots of them, i was just wondering if these were of any use.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 8:41PM
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Here is a little information on the "shagbark hickory nuts", if anyone is interested.

Lynn :)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 8:59PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

We had a HUGE tree (over 4 foot in diameter) at our old summer place in NH. The bark does peel out in strips, so you can actally grab a piece and peel it off. As a kid the nuts used to look like little green basketballs, and we called them 'pignuts. The outer hulls, you break off and you now have a smaller hard shell and nut inside. A bit difficult to get any meat from them, but they seem to be across between a walnut and pecan, but more bitter.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 9:05PM
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Been eating them since I was a kid, like them a lot. We have two varieties of hickory here in northern Kentucky- shagbark, with big loose strips of bark, & pignut, a smoothbark hickory (really old, large diameter pignuts sometimes get a little bit of the shaggy, loose bark look). Shagbark hickory nuts are good eating, sweet if you peel off the hulls & let sit until late fall or early winter, then shell. Lots of folks around here collect & eat them. On the other hand, I don't know anyone who eats pignut hickory nuts... the local tale is that they're called such because they're bitter, and only fit for pigs. Nuts from the shagbarks are usually a good bit larger than those from the pignuts.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 9:27PM
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CA Kate

We had Shagbark Hickory trees near us in Wisconsin and we would pick up huge bags every year. I loved them and truly miss having them to cook with -- just like walnuts or pecans.

The following is a cake I made for publication when I worked for a magazine. As I recall it was very good. I love hickory nuts and would love to be able to make this cake again.

GrandmaÂs Hickory Nut Cake

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup butter
3 eggs
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2-1/2 cups flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup hickory nuts, chopped
(reserve a few halves for garnish)

Penuche Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk OR cream
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
(1/2 cup hickory nuts, if desired)

Cream together sugar and butter for cake.
Add eggs; beat on medium speed of mixer for
2 minutes. Mix dry ingredients together lightly
with fork. Add dry ingredients, alternating with
milk. Mix well. Stir in Vanilla and nuts.
Pour into a greased and floured 13" x 9" pan.
Bake at 325º F for 45-50 minutes.
(The cake may also be baked in 8" layer pans.)

Make frosting by melting the butter in medium
sauce pan. Add brown sugar; boil 2 minutes.
Add milk; bring to boil. Remove from heat; cool
to lukewarm. Beat in confectioners sugar and vanilla.
(You may add 1/2 cup chopped hickory nuts,
if desired) Frost the cake; and sprinkle on any
reserved nuts for garnish.

Yield 16 servings

"A Taste of Country" 1988 Reiman Publishing
Evelyn Kennell of Roanoke, IL was the original contributor.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 10:19PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Hickory nuts are probably the best tasting nut there is and you can often find them for the taking if you are in their growing range. It's easy to spot the typical silhouette of a hickory tree, usually standing alone in a field. Hickory nuts resemble pecans, but are much smaller and harder to crack. My grandpa's philosophy was "the harder the nut, the sweeter the meat" and I think he had hickory nuts in mind.

As pointed out above, it is the shagbark hickory which is prized. The pig nut hickory is hopelessly bitter with tannin. Shell bark hickories are good if you find them. I never found many of those.

I generally eat hickory nuts plain as fast as I can crack them (slow). They would make an excellent "pecan" pie. Once, when I had collected a huge amount of hickory nuts, I made hickory nut brittle for Christmas gifts. That was a superb nut brittle.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 11:03PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Maybe the ones I tried were too green.. I know that hard thick shell that splits apart into 4 pieces was a bit hard to remove

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 12:23AM
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moosemac(Z5 NH / Z3-4 ME)

I love Shagbark Hickory nuts!

HereÂs what I do:
Pick the nuts off the ground while they are still in their green hulls.
Dry until the hulls are brown and come off easily. Save the hulls and let them dry until they are hard.
Use the hulls as you would hickory wood for smoking or grilling meats.
As for the nuts:
Once separated from the hulls, crack them with a hammer.
Pick the meat out with the old style metal dental pick.
Vacuum seal the nut meat in food storage bags and freeze.

ItÂs tedious work but I usually crack a bunch of nuts with the hammer then pick the meat out while IÂm watching TV in the evening.

A friend told me to try microwaving the nuts for 15 seconds to loosen the meat from the shell. I'm going to try it this year. I've tried baking the nuts in the past but it doesn't seem to help and it definitely changes the flavor of the nut meat.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 8:01AM
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Although we had a Hickory tree in our yard in Georgia, it never bore nuts.... Don't know if I have ever tasted hickory nuts.... they sound just as hard to shell as black walnuts, which I love. Kay

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 8:30AM
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We have a lot of shagbark hickory trees on our property. When they start falling from the trees, it sounds like hail on our workshop roof. A friend told me to boil them and the bad ones will come to the top to toss. Lay them out to dry for at least a couple of week or more, perhaps even shelling them over the winter. She thought the yield would be about 1/4 cup per pound of nuts in the shell. I need verification as I am giving some to another friend who would like a cup of nut meats. All help appreciated.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 5:41PM
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brokenbar(Mexico 23 00 N, 102 00 W)

I am SOOOOOOOO envious. These trees take MANY years to produce and won't do well here where it's so cold. I miss all my nut trees that I had when we had our ranch in Northern California. I really notice when I have to buy a package of nuts for baking...YIKES!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 6:38PM
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mscratch(z6 S.E. Mo.)

When I lived in Mo. we had tons of hickory trees but I cannot remember them having any shag barks, anyway I would gather them and after they were allowed to dry (cause you sure don't eat them green) I would use a concrete block, a hammer, and a nut picker to get to the meat. They make the most delicious cake you can ask for. I recall them having a very hard shell therefore the hammer and concrete block to knock them open on. It's alot of work to get that meat out and I am certain hardly anyone even fools with them now but they are a treat! I think they were used in the "old days" when people gathered whatever they could for the coming winters or at least that seems how it was in the Ozarks.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 7:14PM
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mad_about_mickey(**7* *N.C.)

I am originaly from PA and we had hickory nut trees there. My brothers and I went with my Dad every year to collect them and we put them in mesh bags and hung them in the basement til winter and then cracked them open on an anvil.
We also had butternut trees. Does any one remember those? A very nice sweet nut.
We had an english walnut tree but it never gave us many. We used to get the black walnuts and my Dad would lay them out in the driveway and drive over them to remove that nasty outer shell. Then we let them dry on the drive and stored them in the basement for winter cracking too. Mom made a black walnut cookie that was very tasty.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 8:46PM
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We picked up about 2 gallons while we were in SE Nebraska last week. They taste great. I found that soaking them in water overnight made the shell a little easier to crack with a pecan cracker.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 3:47AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The oldest hickory tree I have seen, must be at least 300 years old. Its about 80 foot tall, and the trunk measures almost 5 feet wide. We as kids used to collect the nuts, and they looked a little like a football, but rounder with 4 'seams'. A few old timers there in NH called them 'pignuts'. These had a hard, thick green covering, that had to be removed first, then you cracked open the shells and the nuts inside. They were a bit hard to get the meat out of. I didn't even try tasting them back then as we were little kids, so what did we know..

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 1:40PM
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Too tough to get at the meat!
I searched this tonight as I spent hours raking these up today and have much work left.
I have 3 large shagbarks in the front yard. last year not a nut dropped, This year the yard is covered. Although I live in rural Festus squirrels seem rare around here. Maybe hunted hard. At any rate I assumed I was going down to clean up the husks and shells but found the inner shell and nut untouched. I broke and ate a few, too much trouble as the shell is so intertwined with the nut, tastey though.
Anyone in Jeff Co, Mo. chime in and bring a rake and help can take the lot.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 8:23PM
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been looking to aquire these nuts. am specifically wanting shagbark and shellbark seeds. the shellbarks on my parents farm are always being scarfed up by the squirrels before they drop. dads been looking and can't find me a sole nut. hoping to grow my own.

the only thing i have in kind to trade would be for some black walnuts which are just starting to drop.


    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 12:30AM
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Well wildlifeman, I'd be glad to box up and ship you as many fresh fallen nuts as you'd like asuming you pay the freight. I'd grab fresh drops with the husk if helpful. Drop me a line (314) 581-0912
Leave a message if no answer - it's a cell and I'm kinda in the sticks

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 2:11PM
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bit late now, but i will give u a jingle tomorrow.

i look forward to procuring some shagbarks. part of my wildlife enhancement project.



    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 1:20AM
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left you a message on your v.m. am still getting vm and can see we might be in for a game of phone tag. like u i live in the sticks and cells are worthless.

was viewing burnt ridge website for a fall order of fruit and discovered they sell shellbark as well as shagbark hickories for 4 bucks each. i can just order them with my fruit trees.

i would rather have nuts as if hickory seedlings are like the walnuts i planted they will just die. i can take a bucket of walnuts and dump on the ground though and they just sprout right up. go figure.

wanted to thank you anyway for your kind offer, but this will save u boxing nuts up and a trip to the post office.

thanks and regards,


    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 8:39PM
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I have just discovered some nuts that I think are shagbark hickory nuts. They are about 1 inch plus and still green. They look kinda of round but not perfectly round. I just want confirmation before trying to eat them. Please let me know if they are shagbark hickory nuts.
Thanks in advance!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 10:00PM
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I forgot to include a file in my previous post. Here is the pic.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 10:03PM
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Yep, those look like hickory nuts - did the outer husk split into 4 pieces?

I'm wondering if/when the nuts are good to eat if they've had the husks taken off while still green. I told DH my grandfather always waited until the husks were dry and black, but DH just had to peel the husk off every single nut he picked up. Some are noticeably wet so must have been really green. He did the same thing a couple weeks ago and now wants to start cracking the nuts, we did crack about half a dozen just to try last week but I really think they need to cure longer?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 7:26PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

puipui96- That is definitely a hickory nut.

ajsmama- I know that with black walnuts once you remove their husks you are supposed to let them cure for a few weeks before shelling. The reason for curing is that it allows their flavor to further develop and it also causes the nutmeat to dry out and shrink some, making them easier to pick out of the shell.

However, I'm not sure how long to cure hickory nuts. Hickories and pecans are very closely related so if your hickory's nutmeats have a texture similar to a pecan, I'd say that they are ready to be shelled.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 2:20AM
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"Hickories and pecans are very closely related ..."

They will pollinate one another and will hybridize. I have a hican tree cultivar that was planted about 18 yrs ago, has yet to bear nuts.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 6:30AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

All nuts in the walnut family can be eaten when still soft and not cured(dried) Actually it is considered a delicacy. But the nut inside should be fully grown. At that stage you need to remove the husk yourself. But then should wear gloves otherwise your hands will dyed and stained.
Black Walnut is different. Its husk in integrated and will never fall off. And the nut itself is so hard that you have to use a hammer. And you have to know how to hit it. Because you want to crack it not to crush it. And After all that you will work very hard to get just a few bits. BUT its taste is just something else. Black walnut is native to America whereas the one called English Walnut is actually Persian Walnut.

This post was edited by seysonn on Tue, Oct 15, 13 at 7:06

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 7:02AM
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Hickory nut husks don't stain your hands like walnuts do. I know people pickle immature English walnuts but I've never had them, I think the hickories are a bit more mature than the walnuts they use for pickling.

Hickories are related to pecans (or pecans are a type of hickory) - different genus from walnuts.

But I guess my grandfather just stored the nuts in the husks until they dried and blackened not so much to be easier to husk, but to be easier to extract the nut meats. I have to get DH to hold off a bit cracking these - the few we did crack were very hard to pick the meats out of.

I don't remember from when I was a girl - are they fully cured when the meats rattle around a little in the shell, or are they too dried out then?

I did remember my grandfather using a brass cylinder to crack the nuts, I told DH and DS not to use a nut cracker (when they wanted to try cracking them the beginning of the month, even after I told them they probably needed to cure a bit - we never ate them in Sept). Of course they didn't listen to me, and DS broke the nutcracker from my grandparents' set - I think it was what they called "white metal" so it was pretty soft. Don't know why he didn't use the lobster crackers which are heftier.

I think pecans are larger and easier to crack - DH is from TX so he's not familiar with hickories.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 8:40AM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

Hickories are in the same family as walnuts (the Juglandaceae family, I had to look up the actual name), so I figured the information on curing walnuts would be appropriate. But yeah, they are in different genuses, Juglans (walnuts) and Carya (hickories and pecans). And no, hickory husks don't stain like walnuts.

I can attest to the staining qualities of walnut husks. I had on a pair of vinyl gloves and over them I had on gardening gloves when I was removing husks from some black walnuts about 2 weeks ago. Somehow the juice of the walnuts soaked through both pairs of gloves because when I took them off, my hands were stained. Most of the stains on my skin are gone but my right thumbnail and index fingernail are still stained a disgusting yellowy-brown.

Pecans are way easier to crack than hickories. Last year I found about a dozen hickory nuts and I tried to crack one with a nutcracker. I kept squeezing harder and harder until all of a sudden pieces of shell and nut went flying and to my surprise, a few worms (yuck!). And this was after I did a float test on them. So I tossed the rest of them.

I used a small c-clamp to crack the black walnuts I found this year and it worked well. The c-clamp applied an even pressure to the nut and cracked it easily. Or at least it did when they were still fresh. I'll have to try it again in 2-3 weeks. I think it would work well on hickories too.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 10:49AM
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Can't give info on when they are ready to shell, but I know the ones we've done were very difficult to get the meat out of the shells. We have shagbark hickorys on the back of our woods, but I haven't ever collected the nuts from them. Maybe I ought to this year.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 8:09PM
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