For those of you who grew up in the South, the mental picture of a walnut is not what is found in the aisle of the grocery store. No, in their natural form, walnuts do not look like tiny brains. In fact, to a 10 year old boy, they look like hand grenades. Ok, a small, puny, hand grenade. (An M67, internal-serrated-coil, fragmentation grenade, in case nomenclature is important to you).
Not only are these hard, green, balls a useful substitute for explosives in (pretend) war, they actually contain food. I have never attempted to obtain the food part of a wild walnut, but friends have told me it is quite a chore. And it turns your hands completely black. The complete walnut is about 2-3 inches in diameter, with a green outer rind. Inside the rind, is the pear-shaped nut, and inside that shell is the meat.
Once the meat is extracted, it is usually dried before eating. According to our trusting cooking guide, the nuts must also be soaked, and then dried. The reason is obvious to any person who has attempted to replace all the protein in their diet with nut protein from un-soaked nuts. (Page 513, sidebar). What? You haven’t tried that yet? Well, let me give it to you in a nutshell:
The story boils down to Enzymes. A really snazzy word conjured up by biologist with too much time on their hands, Enzymes refer to confused proteins. These proteins actually think they are catalysts. Fortunately, your body uses them the same as catalysts, so all is well. Enzymes are responsible for most of the really tough digestion. Water, alcohol, and a handful of other small substances pass through the stomach lining, but other, more complex items must wait until the small intestine to be handed over to the blood stream. This hand off must follow proper procedure, with correct labelling of products, and due inspection from the Intestine Wall Duty Officer. Anything else just passes along until it reaches a good end. In the case of Walnuts, or any other nuts for that matter, the enzymes break off appropriate chunks of nutritional goodness, and package them properly to get past the Duty Officer. And here is where you and I get stuck. Our enzymes are idiots. They always fill out the forms wrong, or try to carry more than $10,000 worth of nutrition through, that sort of thing. So, that’s why I hire mercenary enzymes. These guys are actually sitting around in the nuts, just waiting for a job. Plus, they’re cheap: a little salt, some water, and they’ll put my nutrients in good order.
Hiring you’re own mercenary enzymes is outlined (in somewhat different words) on page 512 and 513.
Ingredients: Your nuts, some salt, filtered water. (The book claims 4 c. nuts, 2 tsp. salt).
Mix nuts with water and salt, leave in warm place for at least 7 hours or overnight. Drain. Spread on baking pan and place in warm oven for 12-24 hours until crisp.
The friendly little enzymes unlocked by the soaking have now made every bite of delicious Walnut digestible, even to the strictest Intestine Wall Duty Officer.
And now you have soaked your nuts!