A Guide to Nuts
Hickories possess one of the hardest shells to crack. Their buttery flavor makes them a favorite in desserts, but they're also eaten raw or cooked in other dishes.
Audrey and Robert Biersach of Columbus, Wisconsin, gather shagbark hickories from the wild to eat and sell. The secret to cracking the nuts, she says, is to dry them properly for about three weeks. "There isn't any easy way to crack them," she says. "But after you do a million of them, you know what to do."
Robert places a damp towel over the nut hulls the night before he cracks them so they absorb a bit of moisture, then cracks them using a vise. Audrey tucks the nutmeats in the freezer, where they'll keep for several years.