The Cherokee Native Americans would harvest nuts in the fall, season or ripen them for a month, then crush them and form the paste into 3 inch balls for storage. On the cruel “Trail of Tears” they would boil the balls to make a nutritious soup. The shells of the nuts simply float to the surface for easy removal. Traditionally, sometimes rice or grits are added to the soup. This was a good alternative protein source when meat was hard to find. Today you can wrap and freeze the balls for use later.
The Cherokee Tribe lived in the western edge of the Boston Mountains and many remain today. We have hickory trees on our property and use the hickory nut shells, soaked in water, as a smoke source for our outdoor grill.