Posted by: kathandroger | January 29, 2011

Walnuts and Chippendales

As mentioned in previous posts, we have quite a few walnut trees and therefore an awful lot of walnuts…or so we thought. The last couple of years we haven’t really made the most of our walnuts, but this year we were determined to make walnut oil (or at least have someone make it for us. As we talked around to friends, it became clear that this is what everyone does around here and that January evenings seem to be largely devoted to cracking walnuts. Now I don’t mind cracking a few for my personal consumption, but we have eight large boxes of the things and quite frankly we have better things to do! So when we discovered that the local huilerie has an industrial nut cracker and will crack you nuts for you for a small fee, we reckoned that was the way to go.

The oil producer in question is just to the south of Chatellerault – Huilerie L’Epine and has been producing walnut oil for 200 years. Todays generation is the 8th of the family to run the business. Unfortunately we didn’t take the camera, but will do next time – what a cracking little place, if you excuse the pun. As you approach the first thing that hits you is a wonderfully rich smell of roasting walnuts. The entrance area was packed with about 15 people – we assumed there was a tour going on, but soon realised that they were armed with plastic bottles and containers, waiting for their oil to be made. As we moved through, there was a hot, dark liquid pouring slowly from one of the huge presses ready for collection. I can’t imagine much has changed there in the last 200 years, except of course for the huge nutcracker! It was then that we started to feel a bit inadequate as all around us were sacks and sacks of walnut kernels, all named, waiting to be processed. So we sloped through with our paltry harvest, almost apologetically tipping them into the machine. And hey presto, 30 minutes later they were all cracked…


There’s still a bit of work to be done, but it is more sorting than cracking. Then back to the huilerie with our plastic containers!

We were out for dinner yesterday evening to our newly refurbished village restaurant with a group of friends and were discussing walnut oil, as one does in the country. We were told by the chap at the huilerie that we would get about 6 litres of oil from our crop. As we talked, we realised that our friends each got between 15 and 20 litres! We are definitely lightweights on the walnut front! In fact we were all out for dinner as it was the opening night of the restaurant and we felt it was important to give our support. And a very good night was had by all. At the end, the chef asked if we would be coming to the ladies night in a couple of weeks as there would be a couple of Chippendale strippers. Now our village is a quiet little place and nothing much ever happens. Some of the ladies eyes were out on stalks! Things are a changing in St Remy sur Creuse…


  1. I have just come across your blog and it makes interesting and enjoyable reading.
    We have a home nearby in Le Petit -Pressigny but only manage to get out for holidays at the moment One day……..
    Hope the work is progressing well. Keep up the good work!

    • Many thanks for your comment Gaynor. We’re pleased you enjoyed the blog!

  2. I also like to potter, only I call it sorting! My children, now left home, still know to give me a wide birth when I am on a mission to sort.
    Sorting / pottering is really satisfying.

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