Hickory nuts are packed with health benefits from protecting the heart to boosting metabolism, increasing circulation, calming nerves, and protecting your kidneys. Like most nuts, hickory nuts are also calorie rich and full of good fats, which help re-balance your cholesterol and fatty acid balance in the body, promoting cardiovascular health and lowering your chances of developing atherosclerosis or suffering from a heart attack/stroke.
When making Hickory Nut Milk, I recommend that you wear protective gloves and goggles when cracking the nuts. When cracking the nuts with a hammer, pieces can potentially fly into your eyes. Wearing gloves will protect your fingers from the natural staining of the shells. If you do get stained fingers, use lemon juice to remove the stains.
The nuts I used were from shagbark hickory trees growing near my house, where I found the trees full of nuts.
Nut trees don’t make a crop every year, but produce at unpredictable intervals. Some years a feast, some years a famine, a boom and a bust cycle known as fruit masting.
Once you have collected some hickory nuts, it is time to get cracking.
Using a hammer, crack the hickory nuts.
However, getting every kernel piece free from the shell is not necessary. In order to make Hickory Milk, you need to boil the shell as well.
Both the oily and nutty texture of the kernel, mixed together with the smoky qualities of the nutshells creates the perfect flavor and texture. So, all that you need to do is break the shells and the smaller you get the shells and kernels, the better.
When boiling the nuts and shells, do 1 part hickory nuts / shells to 3 parts water. For example, if you have 1 cup of both crushed hickory nuts and kernels, then add 3 cups of water. This is important, for if you add too much water the taste will be watery and if you do not have enough, it will be too syrupy to drink properly. In a pot, fill it with the amount of water you will need and simmer the mixture of hickory nut kernels / shells for 30 minutes. This simmering is part of the whole experience. The fragrance that comes off of the nuts is wonderful.
After 30 minutes, open the pot. You will notice that the bits of kernels, during the boiling process have become separated from the shells, and have floated to the surface. The shells, heavier, sink to the bottom. While still simmering, grab a spoon strainer and collect all of the kernels from the surface of the water. These kernels can still be used in other ways. Place them on a towel or hard surface in the sun and allow them to dry. These kernels, although drained of most of their flavor, can be ground up into flour and used to thicken soup, sausages, gravy and sauces.
Once you have removed all the kernel pieces, remove the pot from the heat. Now, pour the Hickory Milk from the pot through a strainer into a pourable cup, like a measuring cup. This strainer will catch all the shells, which can then be composted. Your Hickory Milk, still hot and steaming, is ready to be consumed. Sugar and cream, can also be added to enhance the flavor. The Hickory Nut Milk can be stored in the fridge for several days.
*I made a basic green smoothie, using half cup of chilled hickory nut milk, and added 6 ice cubes, along with a handful of kale, chia seed and 1 date. It was delicious.