i'm not sure if it's a walnut tree or not, but in the forest preserves
there are these fruits that fall off trees that look and kinda smell
if you crack it open, it's all dark and musty inside. if you wash away
the dark stuff, there's a seed or nut. if you crack it open, it looks
kinda like walnut flesh.
is this a walnut or related to walnuts? can it be eaten?
if it is edible, must it be cooked?
Sounds like walnut or maybe butternut. They're ripe when you press on
the hull and your finger leaves an impression. They have to be hulled
and then cured for 2 or 3 weeks.
Messy job hulling walnuts and the juice will leave a dark stain on
your hands that lasts for days. After you get the hull off hose down
the shelled nuts to get them clean. Test them in a bucket of water, if
the sink keep them. If they float get rid of them.
Stack them 2 deep on some kind of tray in the sun for 2 or 3 weeks
to cure them.
If you're in the US, it's probably a black walnut, though possibly
butternut, which is a closely related species. Butternuts are slightly
more elongated, while black walnuts are , which is a native tree. Black
walnuts are edible and do not need to be cooked, although they're (a)
harder to shell and yield less than English walnuts; (b) have a more
bitter taste; and (c) can stain your hands.
The outer hull, which is green when the nut first drops and will darken
and shrivel over time, needs to be removed first. My grandpa used to
spread them out on his gravel drive and run over them several times with
a '67 buick electra. The fact that this procedure mungled up the hulls
enough to remove them easily but left the inner shells intact will give
you some clue about the hardness of these critters! Once the hulls are
off, rinse them with a garden hose and then spread them out in a cool,
dry, dark place to finish drying and curing for two weeks. After that,
you can bag them up and they'll keep for quite a while.
Pound on them on the pointy end with a hammer to break the shells.
Soaking them in water overnight first will help moisten the nutmeat and
help it hang together through the trauma of shelling.
butternut hulls are sticky, smaller & more oval than black
walnuts. both are native trees, although the butternut is
severely endangered by blight. i've lost all my butternut
trees. the black walnuts are apparently immune to the blight.
since the OP says the nuts are about the size & shape of a
lime, i'd bet they're black walnuts.
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