August - September
Butternuts resemble walnuts with their sticky husk, which encases a knobby shell that, in turn, encases a sweeter, richer, creamier flavored nut than a regular walnut. Unfortunately, butternut trees are rarely cultivated on a large scale, and they are vulnerable to fungal infections.
Butternuts come ripe in the fall—when you can dent the hull with your thumb. Only harvest fallen butternuts if you shook them from the tree yourself. Tree nuts allowed to sit on the ground for even a short amount of time may have already begun to rot. Remove the nuts from the hulls, rinse, then place in a cool, dark, dry area with good air circulation to cure. After a couple weeks, crack a nut and if the shell cracks easily then it has dried properly.
Nutrition: Similar to walnuts, butternuts have a very high beneficial omega-3 fatty acid content, which research suggests may reduce inflammation and may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Since they have a high calorie count like other tree nuts, they should be eaten sparingly - a serving is about 1/3 cup or a small handful. Incorporating a serving of nuts into your daily diet can be a good way to increase your intake of beneficial fatty acids while curbing hunger. Try some chopped on a salad to improve your body's absorption of nutrients from vegetables.