Hickory Nut Great Wild Survival Food
Hickory Tree Identification: Hickory Trees make a great survival food in Hickory nuts. So recognizing these trees is a great bit of knowledge to have when trying to live of the land. Hickory trees come in a number of species including the pecan, walnut and many others. The leaves and their arrangement is all you need to know to recognize a tree as a hickory.
All Hickory tree have compound leaves which means that One leaf is made of multiple leaflets. The other feature to look for in a tree is that the compound leave emerge in an alternate manner (staggered not in pairs). Meaning each leaf (not leaflet) sproats by itself without a paired leaf exactly opposite of it. If the leaves are opposite arrangement it is probably a species of ash.
The Nuts: No hickory nuts are poisonous but the bitternut hickory and usually the pignut hickory which both have thin shells are considered inedible. Now if you are starving to death eating a few bitternut hickory nuts is better than nothing but eating large amount of the bitter nuts is not advisable.
There are ways to identify the nuts but there is no need to do that. Simply taste the nuts you find and if they are very very bitter then move on. If they taste fine then gather them all up!
Hickory trees produce nut that fall from September to November. Squirrels and chipmunks also think these nuts are a great survival food and will store them away for the winter so when the nuts are on the ground don't waste time, gather them up as quickly as possible or they might all be gone when you return a few days later.
When gathering nuts be sure to not waste time with bitter or rotten nuts. Any nuts with holes should be discarded. The hole is an indication of insect infestation in the nut. Also you don't want to waste time picking a bushel of nuts only to find out later they are bitter and inedible so eat some before gathering. Also it is quite common for the nuts to be rotten. So be sure to eat/inspect a few before wasting time gathering rotten nuts.
When gathering nuts you will find that usually the nut is covered by a husk. You either have to remove the husk when gathering or you can save that chore for later.
One of the great things about hickory nuts is that they do fairly well with storage. For storage you do not want the nuts to freeze but you do want to keep them cool. Refrigeration isn't likley going to be an option so you are basically at the mercy of the weather, but be sure to keep them out of the heat/sunlight as much as possible. They can last a couple of weeks at room temperature but a number of months if you can keep them cool. Very cool but not frozen if possible.
Under ideal conditions nuts can be stored for a few year but that isn't likely going to be possible. It is probably best to at least eat some of your store periodically to make sure that they aren't going bad. If they start to go bad go ahead and eat the rest of the good nuts before they go to waste.
One method to keep them from freezing if freezing is going to be a problem is to store them underground in some container. Simply bury the container deep enough so that it will not freeze. Uusually that is not very deep at all.
Preparation: To get at the meat of the hickory nut you will need some manner of cracking the shell. Do not use your teeth. A smack from a rock will work but a vise is one of the better ways or a pair of pliers. If you are fortunate enough to have an absolutely huge amount of nuts to shell you might consider building some sort of smasher that looks like an old butter churn. This should allow you to smash many nuts at once. Use your imagination!
Read about salt extraction from hickory!
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