Hickory Tree Nuts | How To Identify, Eat And Harvest

Hickory nuts are a natural food source that can come in help if you run out of supplies while hiking.

However, with so many hickory trees littering the landscape in North America, determining which hickory variety is edible and healthful is difficult.

Furthermore, hickory nuts are not edible when they are still in their hard shell.

Before you can finally sink your teeth into their nutritious and delectable flesh, you'll have to break and cure them.



The finest thing is that there is no need to grow or care. Those priceless nuts can be found growing on hickory trees all around the world.

All you have to do is know where to look and how to recognize them. So, taking a page from Bear Grylls' book, let's learn a thing or two about surviving in the American wilderness or on the trail.

But first, a word of caution. If you have a dog out hiking or camping with you, don’t feed them these protein-packed hickory nuts. They would give the dog digestive problems.

Identifying the Hickory Tree, Nut

Finding food in the woods is simple, as any survival expert will tell you. The most difficult part is deciding which foods to avoid. Some nuts are toxic outright, while others may not even be ripe. So, how can you recognize a hickory tree and determine whether the hickory nut you're going to crack and cook over an open fire is healthy or not?



To begin, you must first identify the hickory tree. These massive deciduous trees may reach heights of 60 to 120 feet. In the fall, they frequently drop their leaves, as well as their hickory nuts.

Each leaf is roughly 9 inches long on average, while some hickory types have leaves that are only 2 inches long. They bloom in the spring with little yellow blooms.

Hickory nuts are normally green and huge when they fall off the tree. When they're ripe, though, they fall to the ground beneath the tree, amid the leaves.

Normally, the nut has two shells. You can remove the outer husk by hand or with a sharp blade. There's also an inner shell, but it's quite resistant and requires the use of a hammer or a rock to fracture.

Hickory Nuts Uses

The husks of some hickory nuts will already be open when they fall from the tree. This makes peeling them off a lot easier. If that isn't the case, you can remove the husks with a knife. It's time to utilize a tool once you've reached the hard shell.

The red hickory nut's strong shell isn't the only one that's brittle and ready to fracture. If you're out in the woods and don't have a handy walnut nutcracker, you can shatter the shell open with a rock.

When cracking the shell, try not to use too much force because this could damage the nut inside. Once you've made a breach in the shell, pry it open with a knife and eat the flesh within.

Hickory nuts are a diverse food source, whether you're out on the trail or lucky enough to live near a hickory forest. You may use them in a variety of recipes and meals, or simply bake them on their own for a tasty and filling snack. Here are a few ideas for how to use these tasty nuts.

  • To prepare a sweet syrup with exquisite flavors, boil the nuts in water and add sugar.
  • Use the oil extracted from the nuts in your cookery. Boil the nuts in water for half an hour and then set them aside to drain the oil. The oil will float to the top and can be scooped up with a spoon.
  • Make a hickory nut cake using the nuts. The maple bourbon icing complements this cake nicely.
  • Make hickory nuts butter from the oil. Just store it in the fridge where it will turn thick and use it as a spread on your toast.
  • They make a nutritious and mouth watering hickory nut pie.
  • They are a good replacement for walnuts or pecans.
  • Roast the nuts in an oven or on an open fire and let them cool down
  • Before eating the nuts as a snack, roast them in an oven or over an open fire and let them cool.

Harvest Hickory Nuts

Hickory nuts ripen in the fall and fall from the tree on their own.

To harvest them, you won't need any special equipment or expertise. A tiny bag or even a conventional basket will suffice.

You set out to collect as many as you can, equipped with your knowledge of which hickory nut varieties are tastier and worth the effort. You may have to compete with squirrels, as that is their preferred food.

The nuts are tucked down among the leaves. So scatter the leaves with a stick and reveal the delicious nuts beneath them. To make a single hickory nut pie, you'll usually need a large quantity of these nuts.

It may take an entire day to fill a medium-sized basket, but the effort is well worth it.