Today I was pickling walnuts. A couple of weeks ago I had picked them, and tested them all with a needle to see if the shell had started forming. At that stage quite a few nuts required me to insist quite firmly with the needle before it broke in. Hmm, I thought, maybe they’ll be OK after they’ve been soaked…
So I soaked them all for two weeks, changing the brine regularly. Then I rinsed them assiduously and left them to dry.
Before pickling the walnuts, so as to ensure I am not responsible for breaking the teeth of my friends and family this autumn, I decided to double check again with the needle. A little voice inside was reminding me how my standards on the first cut had not been exactly…exacting.
I tested a few walnuts that were fine. Then I hit a rather hard one, but eventually the needle prevailed.
Hmmm. I like pickled walnuts. I put it in a ‘maybe’ pile.
One by one, I tested the walnuts. There were a few that were simply rock solid. There was no way around the fact that they were dental insurance claims waiting to happen. Bad Nuts! I put them in a ‘No!’ pile and congratulated myself on my ruthlessness.
There were a few where the needle wouldn’t penetrate the stalk end, but a quick poke in the middle and it slipped right in. I put them in a ‘Not sure: To Re-test’ pile.
I then re-tested the ‘Maybe’ and ‘Not sure’ piles, my decisions somewhat swayed, I must admit, by the meagre nature of the ‘Yes’ pile. Some of them I allowed to pass muster. Some, upon consideration, I felt were quite risky, especially considering Granny’s dentures, and I sadly rejected them.
With others I was still uncertain. I dithered, I re-poked. I looked sadly at the paltry yes pile. Surely more nuts would be better even if some of them were slightly crunchy. Surely?
I sighed, I re-tested again. And finally, since it was soon time to get them in the jars before the children needed feeding I finally laid down The Rule.
The Rule: If the needle doesn’t push in at the stalk end it’s a Bad Nut. No exceptions.
I re-needled. I discarded many nuts. And then I looked at my champion nuts and they were good.
And when I felt the happiness of my Good Nut pile it reminded me of my happiness when I had finished my third and final edit, when I was ready to submit, when I had bravely discarded all the ‘Not sure’ and ‘Maybe’ parts of my novel. And I knew in my gut that even if people didn’t like my particular style of pickle, at least they wouldn’t break any teeth.
And the moral of the story – A Bad Nut is a Bad Nut, no matter how many times you poke it. Stop prevaricating and go with your gut feeling. Save yourself time that could be better spent writing and bin Bad Nuts on the first read.*
*NB – You can always go green and recycle them if it makes you feel better. See my post from this time last year ‘The Cutting Room Floor’ , but note also that I never used any of my offcuts after all…