The “Squirrel” is launched!

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It has been a busy week. Today we officially launched our walnut collector, after months of preparation with a local metal worker.It is exclusively on sale in our workshop. As with our walnut oil, we prefer to concentrate on quality rather than quantity. This has enabled us to develop an effective, sturdy tool with a long wooden handle, that enables you to collect walnuts without bending down.

The torrential rain has attracted more customers than usual into our cosy workshop, which has lead to a lack of stock and frantic shelling activity in order to do another press. It would be nice to have enough oil and sunshine to do some more markets, like this great one in Port Lesney at the Camping des Radeliers. You may have seen this village in Raymond Blanc’s series “A Very Hungry French Man”, when he returned to his native region. It’s a beautiful place on the banks of the Loue river. I call it the Côte d’Azur of Salins Les Bains (although a lot more peaceful), with it’s little riverside beaches and great restaurants.

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We have also had a film maker in this week. A friend described the light in the photo below as “rembrandt-esque” – some might say gloomy! – but in any case, the photographer was delighted with the natural light and atmosphere, rather than strip lights and the white coats of many production areas. Jean-Pierre’s beret and braces are much more authentic for a film aimed at tourists. I think he quite enjoyed my yellow plum and hazelnut tart too. Stone enough plums to cover the shortcrust pastry base and sprinkle generously with brown sugar and crushed hazelnuts (or our “pain de noisette”, the block of pressed hazelnuts which remains after each press).Cook until the plums are jam like and the pastry is lightly browned.Watch this space for the film anyway!

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Getting ready for the walnut and hazelnut harvest…

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Walking through the walnut orchards, I am literally flabbergasted by Mother Nature’s generous offerings for 2014. After 2 years of disappointing harvests, due to unpredictable Spring weather, we are blessed with the sight of bountiful bunches of walnuts, weighing down the branches. I savour the lemony, musky smell of the fruit, maturing in their green husks, which in three or four weeks will start to break up and reveal the woody walnut shell.The calm before the storm…Autumn promises to be exciting (to say the least!), as we have 600 extra trees to work with this year. Thank goodness we have walnut collectors to help us with the task and are also in the process of setting up a “pick your own” system. We have a new website/blog for our walnut and hazelnut oil: www.huileriedesalinslesbains.com. Sorry anglophones! Just in French for now.

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