The Duke Walnut Cruncher

January 27, 2007

It was waiting for me when I arrived home today, a brand new Duke Walnut Cruncher, made in China, sent all the way from a West Virginia hardware store with a website. Bet had warned me so I had a bag of walnuts along. My earlier encounters with this year’s crop of walnuts had left me with 1) terminally stained hands 2) an incredible session of leg/groin cramps after a day of planting 3) a wife who has become afraid to open the door of the fridge at the farm for fear of what she’ll find. Word of the cracker produced an immediate and rather loud, “Don’t you go messing up my house with walnut shells!” I thought this was an over‑reaction to my gentle jests about mounting the Duke Walnut Cruncher on the coffee table in the living room so that it would be handy for hockey games. I guess I shouldn’t repeat the threat which put an end to that idle speculation… It was kinda personal, I thought, especially when she nicknamed me Duke.


The bag of nuts remained from the fall planting extravaganza when I had popped fifteen hundred seeds into the ground over two days of mild weather just before Christmas. Since then they had been exposed to spring‑like weather and then a sharp cold spell. I was anxious to see how they had endured that pummelling. The Cruncher had the look of a cheaply made Asian knock‑off. I mounted the device in the bed of my lathe and tackled the first, still‑frozen walnut. It took a great deal of force to crack it. Cast into the top of the Cruncher was the word, “Lubricate,” so I dripped some 10W30 on the mechanism and tried the next. Much better. The shell splintered away, exposing a bat‑like chunk of white walnut meat. I picked it off, dropped it into a bowl, and repeated the process for the other half. Not bad. Tried another. A lot depends upon how much crunch you put on the lever. A few more. Many of the nuts yield perfect halves. Apart from the great forces required, they come apart more readily than dried‑out Persian walnuts. Bet came down to investigate. She took one look at my brown‑stained hands and refused to touch anything but the white parts accumulating in the bowl. With a gourmet cook’s curiosity she tasted a couple. “They have quite an aftertaste. At first I thought they didn’t taste like much of anything, but then the flavour came along later. They’re quite strong.” When I stumbled up to the kitchen with my cramping hands and bowl of walnut halves the dog went on full alert, nose quivering, begging for a sample. Bet commented, “They do have quite a strong smell, but if you freeze them I’ll try to make something with them on the weekend. So into the freezer went a baggie with about two ounces of walnut in it. To my delight the hands washed right up this time. I think the nuts taste kinda good, though the germinating ones are stronger than the others.

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