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


  1. #1 by Keith Ward on 2017-10-29 - 09:03

    Seems like a good use of the shells to me, I know it is a lot of work to clean hickory nuts. I “loaned” an older Stanley clamp-on vise to my wife that she used for months cracking hickory nuts. The results were turned over to a friend who then baked a pie (similar to pecan) for all of us to enjoy together. The vise made quick work of them and I quickly determined which orientation the nuts broke the easiest allowing access to the meat. I don’t recall keeping the shells … but maybe next time! (Ed, I left a comment in your previous post that is indicating “comment is awaiting moderation.”)

    • #2 by Ed on 2017-10-30 - 18:50

      Dialing the Vise-Grip to just barely shatter each nut works astonishingly well: under two minutes per nut in lots of ten, which is about as much as I can do at one sitting, and I often extract entire halves!

      awaiting moderation

      We’re just back from a weekend trip to marry off one of Mary’s nieces; I’m working my way through the backlog of things-to-do … [grin]

      • #3 by Keith Ward on 2017-10-30 - 19:59

        No worries, I figured you had a life outside of the interwebs …

  2. #4 by RCPete on 2017-10-29 - 11:01

    I saw the pieces on mouse nesting. They’ll skip the BBQ, but Forester spare tire compartments are a local favorite, though one mouse set up shop in the heater ducting. We keep the car/truck hoods open in the garage to avoid nesting on the engine. Oh yeah, we have hantavirus in the area, so mouse control is A Good Thing. Tomcat bait stations FTW!

    • #5 by Ed on 2017-10-30 - 18:51

      Mary just found a large seed cache in one of the boots she’d left on the patio, so it’s definitely that time of the year; I was mildly surprised to not find a mouse nest in the barbie.

      • #6 by RCPete on 2017-10-30 - 20:04

        (Makes note to check the Chevy Pickup’s air filter box.) I did a 1/4″ hardware cloth screen to keep the air box mouse-free, but the upstream duct is also a target.

        Forester crannies are accessible and attractive to the locals. Not sure if they’re deer mice or house; we get both, but Hantavirus is carried by the former. At 36% mortality rate, it gets my attention. It’s a problem in the West, and we had one fatal case in the county this year.

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