Hickory Shells for Bacon Smoking

Hickory trees run on a triennial cycle and 2017 produced a huge crop of nuts. My trusty Vise-Grip makes short work of the otherwise impenetrable shells:

Hickory Nuts - cracking in Vise-Grip
Hickory Nuts – cracking in Vise-Grip

A nut pick extracts the good stuff:

Hickory Nuts - cracked
Hickory Nuts – cracked

In round numbers, you get twice as much shell as you do nut meat, so there’s plenty of shells left over.

I wrapped 10 ounces of shells in a double layer of aluminum foil, poked two rows of air holes along the package, dropped it holes-up atop the “flavorizer” bars in the propane barbie, and smoked 5 pounds of cured pork belly into some of the finest bacon we’ve ever eaten.

Heated and starved for air inside the aluminum wrapper, the shells became charcoal:

Carbonized hickory shells
Carbonized hickory shells