I go to farmers’ markets once and a while and usually find something fun or interesting or new, or just have a really good conversation with a person at the market. It’s easy to see the same people every week, be they vendors, or fellow market shoppers – some of us have similar schedules.
On Mondays I want to go the the Sorauren Farmers’ Market, sometimes I can’t make it between 3pm and 7pm, but I try, even in the winter (they’re indoors anyway) – I’ll head over, and grab a coffee and walk around with a mug in my hand.
This week I went and saw something new to me, and I thought they were pretty neat. They were Heartnuts at the Forbes Wild Foods table.
Ever since we were in Georgia, and I got to try local pecans and peanuts, I’ve been a bit obsessed with finding local Ontario nuts (har dee har har). A conversation with an employee at Good Catch made me realize that peanuts grow around here (which means fresh boiled peanuts could happen again…) But anyway, when I see pecans or walnut like things, it piques my interest and makes me pay attention. Especially when it’s from a known-to-me local forager like Forbes Wild Foods.
So there they were. Heartnuts.
And what’s a heartnut?
Well… a heartnut is a hybrid of a butternut and walnut flavours, and is originally from Japan. It has a smooth and lovely flavour, like walnuts, but without any bitter qualities. These nuts in particular are from the Canadian side of Lake Erie.
Heartnuts generally grow best in northern, temperate, maritime climates.
You can also have a nice visual from the folks at Forbes Wild foods and In The Weeds
The truth is, I just think they’re adorable.
The nice fellow at the market cracked open a couple of these for me with a hammer and encouraged me to try some. I was ready to buy them from the moment I saw them, but I played it cool (as cool as I can, which is basically not cool) and found out a bit more about the nuts. It was love at first crack.
He advised me not to use a regular nut cracker, because these are tough nuts to crack, so when I got home, I used one of my favourite kitchen tools – my wooden rolling pin, and tapped (okay, smacked) at the edge as recommended/demonstrated, and ended up breaking it perfectly down the seem (at least a few times).
These have the best flavour notes of walnuts, without the bitter/basic aftertaste that you can get after eating a bunch. I have a small bag and maybe we’ll do more exciting things with them in the future, but for now – I’ve just been cracking them open and eating them raw.
You can find Forbes Wild Foods at various farmers’ market’s around the city – if you want to find them yourself sometime their market schedule is here.
What’s been your favourite farmers’ market find? Have you tried heart nuts?