The Nut Mill

(By Jason) 
An important and enjoyable part of learning language is learning culture.  This includes taking periodic field trips with our school to see various aspects of French culture while also affording us an opportunity to practice our French with "real French people."  So last week we took a trip to a small mill in the hills nearby which makes flour, paste, and oil out of walnuts and hazelnuts.  Pictured above is part of our class waiting outside the "Moulin."

 The 144 year-old moulin was originally powered by the waterwheel pictured here.  Now days, they have an electric motor as a back-up for when there is not enough water flow.  The intricate set up of gears and such was incredible.
 The process begins by dumping a load of locally picked walnuts or hazelnuts into the stone surface after which a heavy mill stone rolls over the nuts for 15-30 minutes.

 The paste that is created can either be eaten as is, or it can be compressed in a hydraulic press under 200 tons of pressure!  Compressing it creates 2 products - walnut oil and a dry brick of the residual fiber which can be used as a flour additive (4 of these bricks are leaning on the wall below).

 We enjoyed to opportunity to taste both the walnut paste and oil, such that the following day, many of the kids collected walnuts from a walnut tree at our school and proceeded to replicate the process as best they could.  Their walnut butter ended up tasting pretty good in a walnut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.  I wonder how well walnut trees grow in Burundi...

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