Try Something New: Black Walnuts

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One of our neighbors has black walnut trees. I asked what they were doing with the walnuts and they said they just discard them. Discard them? Why? Well, they are messy! I hate to see things go to waste so I decided that we would try something new and harvest black walnuts.

So a few days later I come home to find buckets and buckets of black walnuts. Now these don’t look like walnuts at all! The outer yellow green husk has to be peeled off. This then exposes a black mess.

That black stuff needs to be scrubbed off the expose the walnut shell. Oh, let me tell you, gloves are required! That black stuff stains like crazy!

I haven’t gotten very far into this process.I did find that a wire brush works well for scrubbing off the black stuff. After they are cleaned, the walnuts need to try dry for 5 weeks or so. So I can’t tell you if this is all going to be worth it or not since we won’t be eating them for awhile! My goal is to harvest enough for my Holiday baking but we shall see.

Has anyone ever done this? I welcome any tips!

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Renae is a married working mom of two handsome boys. She works as a registered dental hygienist by day and blogs here at How to Have it All by night. She enjoys cooking from scratch, working in her vegetable garden and functional training.

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  1. I am very interested as well, as the rent house we’re currently in has a walnut tree somewhere close by and I’d LOVE to be able to have some free walnuts. We also have two ginormous pecan trees as well…I SO can’t wait for those to fall and be ready to eat!!

    • Hi Amy,
      Ohhhh, a pecan tree! I would love to have one of those! So far, the walnuts are time consuming. Hubby worked on them for two hours and doesn’t have much to show. He is going to try another method today.

  2. You really don’t have to scrub the black away to let them dry. We have our own large black walnut tree. After picking them up we let them dry in mesh bags for a few weeks. This will make a stink because there will likely be some molding of the green hull. Then we tear into them with a hammer and they are fine to eat then. Probably good to protect your eyes with goggles and wear gloves for sure because the stain on your hands alone can last a week. Then wash and strain away any remaining hull, allow to dry off and we freeze for baking. This is a great activity to get the kids involved with too!

    • Hi Shauna,
      Thanks so much for sharing! Hubby will try this method since the 2 hours of scrubbing yesterday didn’t get him too far. Thanks!

    • Are you picky when picking them up or do you just pick up all of them? My kids and I picked up a grocery bag full yesterday, and I noticed that several of them have black areas on them or holes in them. I assume that I should throw those out, like I would if they were pecans, but I’m new to harvesting my own walnuts.

      • Hi Amy,
        I would not save any walnuts that have holes in them. They can have worms or bugs in them. One little trick to know if they are good or bad is to soak them in water. So after you take the outside husk off (the green part) place them in a bucket of water. If they float they are bad. The walnuts that sink are good! Hope that helps!