Dear Sun Spots: I need your help for I am a stranger to this country and the people who know this, well they are resting in the graveyards. I planted a young butternut seedling in the back of my home in about 1990 or 1992. Now the tree is grown, and this year I have many nuts picked up from the ground. I do not know how to get at the inside to use the nutmeat for they have a sticky green cover. Please, could you find out and print it in your column for perhaps others who would like to know, too? Thank you very much. – Heidi Weber, Dryden.

In addition to responses from readers, according to, the butternut ranks among the highest in food energy of edible nuts, high in both protein and fat. Butternut trees bear early – at just two or three years of age. The fruit is elliptical, like a long, narrow egg, and has a thin, green outer husk covered with fine, bristly hairs that give off a near-permanent brown dye. The inner surface of the husk produces an equally powerful orange dye. The thin, fragrant, oily kernel inside each shell can go rancid quickly, so it’s important to shell and use butternuts soon after you’ve husked and dried them. Butternuts are sweet and delicious straight from the shell, raw or roasted, or baked in cake or pastry. And did you know, according to, butternut extracts were used by early American settlers to dye clothing, including the uniforms of Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War: Hence the slang term for a Confederate soldier, butternut.

Sun Spots is sure you’re very aware shelling butternuts is a challenge but the following tips may assist you. Among them, consider leaving the hulls on and letting the nuts dry. When cracked, the hull will become papery and break away upon the first hit of a hammer, leaving a clean shell to crack. These nuts usually crack better when stood on end. In the meantime, the Kenkel Hard-shell nutcracker might also help you out. It can be purchased on-line at It appears to be designed for hard-to-crack walnuts and butternuts and is mounted on a platform or wall. It costs $49.50.

Dear Sun Spots: The Toy library has merged with New Life at 134 College St. in Lewiston in what is soon opening as A Place For Kids. We need donations such as lightly used toys, games, puzzles, etc. for newborns to around 8-year-olds. We are also seeking a little playhouse for kids to go into. I know they’d absolutely love it!

For more information please call 782-1112 or e-mail us at the [email protected] Our open house is Monday, Oct. 9, so please call or stop by soon so we can be ready. Thank you for your help. – Sue Gallant, No Town.

Readers hoping to contact former Lewiston/Auburn dentist Mary LeBlanc, featured in Sun Spots Sept. 2, column: Please note that the Mary LeBlanc in Canaan and at 475-6045 is not the person you are seeking. Sun Spots has not located any contact information for the former dentist. However, you might consider contacting the Maine Board of Dental Examiners to see if they could assist you with this search. They may be reached at 143 State House Station, 161 Capitol St., Augusta, ME 04333-0143, or via phone at 287-3333.

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