17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Saturday, September 28, 1912: Mater went to a sale today. I got busy this afternoon and went for to gather some butternuts. Was rewarded by getting almost a bushel, any way it was dreadful heavy to carry, but I got them home at last.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
I never heard of butternuts until I read this diary. What are they? What does a butternut tree look like? Are there still any butternut trees around?
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources:
Butternut: Also known as White Walnut, this relative of Black Walnut is slower growing and much less frequently encountered than its well-known cousin. Butternut prefers moist bottomlands and ravines like Black Walnut, but its lightweight wood is beige-pink in color and is not nearly as sought-out for making veneer and furniture. Its kernel within the fruit gives it the common name of Butternut, as it is sweet and very oily.
Butternut trees have oval nuts; black walnuts have round nuts.
I now realize that maybe I can’t tell the difference between butternut and black walnut trees—and that I’ll need to look more carefully the next time I see a walnut tree to figure out which type it is.
Last week-end my husband and I gathered black walnuts. We hulled them and set them out to dry. I can hardly wait until they are dry enough to crack and use. I absolutely love their wonderful complex, sharp, rich, nutty taste in cakes and cookies.
Here are the links to the posts I wrote last year about black walnuts: