I took this photo at Cedar Lodge in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. This looks like a giant “mortar and pestle,” but is actually a tool for crushing hickory nuts.

Kanuchi Hickory nut crusher

Kanuchi Hickory nut crusher

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.


About Boston Mountain Chef

Food is my passion. Every day is a fresh new recipe waiting to be savored!
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1 Response to Kanuchi

  1. Nice one! Here’s the recipe for kanuchi/kanuche, handed down from the Herrins:

    Gather hickory nuts in the fall to allow them time to dry for a few weeks before trying to crack them (which presents somewhat of a challenge). Place the shelled nuts in the kanuche log (or food processor) and grind them until the sweetmeats can be shaped into balls about three inches in diameter. Store the kanuche balls in the freezer until you’re ready to make soup from them.

    For the soup, place one kanuche ball in a quart of boiling water until dissolved; then, simmer for approximately 10 minutes before pouring the liquid through a fine sieve. Discard any remaining shells from the liquid before adding two cups of hominy, grits (pre-cooked), or pre-cooked rice to the mixture. Season to taste with salt and/or sugar.

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