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Hickory nuts are the seeds of the hickory tree, a member of the walnut family. Hickory trees are grown primarily in the central and northeastern parts of the United States. The nuts are ideal for roasting because of their sweet, savory flavor. Hickory nuts can be gathered and roasted in the fall.
Remove the hickory nuts from the outer husk using your fingers. The husk can also be used to gauge the maturity of the nut. Greener husks are less mature, while brown husks are fully mature and the nuts have a richer flavor.
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Place 8 cups of the hickory nuts in a large mixing bowl and pour in 1 cup of vegetable oil and 6 tbsp. of salt. Mix the contents of the bowl thoroughly, ensuring that all of the nuts are coated with oil and salt.
Pour the nuts onto a baking pan and evenly distribute them across the surface. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and roast the hickory nuts for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Remove the nuts from the oven and allow them to sit for 30 to 40 minutes or until they reach room temperature. Test a nut to ensure that the flavor is desirable. More salt can be added at this point if necessary.
Store the hickory nuts in a re-sealable container. Consume the nuts within two weeks of roasting for optimal flavor. Do not eat roasted nuts older than three weeks old, as they spoil faster than dried nuts.
Other seasonings can be used in place of salt, such as garlic salt or Creole spices. These seasonings are more powerful than salt, and should be used in moderation.