Local walnuts are ready at Cleveland Rapids Orchards in Garden Valley (553 Cleveland Rapids Rd., 673-5660). Ray and Kaye Lehne harvested 16 ton of Hartley walnuts from their orchard this year, down from last year's 30-ton crop, but still a good year. Hartleys are a less acidic variety so if walnuts tend to make your mouth sore, these would be a good choice. The nuts have already been dried and sorted. They are available in three sizes: medium for $.90/lb., large for $1.10/lb. and jumbo for $1.25/lb. You can purchase the medium size cracked for you for $1.00/lb.
I opted for a 25 lb. bag of the jumbos and plan to spend the evening in front of the fire, cracking walnuts while we watch the election results come in, all cozy in my hand-knit, red, white & blue, non-partisan, Get-Out-The-Vote sweater! The sweater is an Election Day tradition with me; perhaps cracking walnuts will become a tradition too.
Kaye said I can expect to get about 43% nutmeats by weight from the jumbos. I will keep track so I can compare the cost per pound to buying walnuts from the grocery. Of course, there is no comparison in quality, freshness or flavor! For storage, I will get them cracked and into the freezer as soon as possible, but they will keep in the garage in the shell all through the winter and early spring.
Cleveland Rapids Orchards should have walnuts available for the next 2 to 3 weeks, but if you want a particular size I suggest you get out there soon.