Saturday, August 4, 2018

Cracking Open the Macnuts

The last post about macnuts left us with dehusked macnuts still in their shell. So what's the next step? Setting the nuts aside for 4-6 weeks to dry down in their shells. You see, when they're fresh, the nut meat tends to adhere to the shell lining. That makes it very difficult to get the nut out. But allowing the entire nut to dry down some pulls the nut meat away from the shell lining. I suppose the commercial places have huge drying units of some sort, but on a small scale like this farm, the simplest way is to lay out the nuts some place dry and airy. Currently I use a greenhouse floor. But before I had greenhouses, I laid out the nuts in a single layer in boxes or trays, then stashed them under the house for several weeks. It worked. 

Next step....I wash the nuts before cracking. No sense in adding unnecessary dirt. 

Now for the business of cracking those nuts. It's not as simple as it sounds. These nuts are tough, and being round, they have structural strength. So any old nutcracker isn't going to work. You need one that can handle a macnut. There are several types out there, but this one works really well even if it is only one nut at a time. 

Above, this is the cracker commonly seen in my area. It's easy to use. Durable. Gets the job done. The particular cracker was purchased on 2005 and has been extensively used ever since. It's never let me down. 

The jaws have little teeth that grasp the nut. The jaw on the right is moveable and driven by a cam attached to the handle. Move the handle from right to left, and the jaws close. 

Pretty simple. Pretty powerful. 

Add a nut. Close the jaws.........


If the nuts are dried down enough, and with a bit of practice, I can get a lot of whole macnuts. The less dry the nuts, the more pieces I seem to get, as opposed to whole nuts. 

Over the years I've done a lot of macnut cracking. I figure that for every hour of nut cracking, I end up with a pound of end product.....that is, the weight of nuts after they are dehydrated. You see, once the nuts are cracked, the nut meat is perishable. It needs to be either refrigerated, frozen, roasted, dehydrated, or used. I prefer to dehydrate them. Once dehydrated, I can either sell or trade them, or process them into cooking oil. 

Yes, strictly looking at the money side of this, I'm surely not getting rich processing macnuts. But it's just another small part of being self sufficient. We could eat the nuts ourselves (whole, in baking, as macnut butter, etc), trade or sell them in order to acquire some food that we don't produce ourselves, or process them into our own cooking oil. They also make nice gifts. 


  1. Ive never seen a nutcracker like that. Where did you buy it?

    1. I bought mine at Captain Cook Trading Company.

  2. That is a very heavy duty nutcracker! Nuts are always very labor intensive it seems. Then I always feel like I should save them for something special. I just pulled two bags of unshelled pecans from the freezer so I could have room for other things. Found a gallon bag of shelled ones too, that I seem to have lost somewhere along the way.

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