How to harvest, process and store black walnuts

Black Walnut tree

THUD, THUD, THUNK. Each time a breeze rustles the branches, another dozen black walnuts fall to the ground. The area beneath the walnut tree nearest the house was starting to look like a mismanaged tennis court — and it is only one of six walnut trees on our property.

“What are we going to do with all these walnuts?” I asked the farmer as I threw one out for the dog to catch.

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“We’ll eat them,” he replied. “I’ll bring ’round the bucket loader.”

Nuts about nuts

The farmer and I are nuts about nuts, but it seems that most Ohioans don’t share our enthusiasm. Each fall we drive over hundreds of smashed hulls on country back roads and see tons of black walnuts left to rot. I have witnessed the same native nut waste in many Ohio Metro Parks.

If you do not have your own black walnut tree to gather from, look for unattended black walnut trees and ask the property owner if you may gather and haul away. The owner is likely to thank you for removing the nuts from the mower’s path.

Alternatively, take a few 5-gallon buckets along on your next autumn hike. If free foraged food isn’t benefit enough, witnessing the changing color of the season will make it worth your while.

Black Walnuts in tree

How to harvest, process and store black walnuts

  1. Harvest walnuts when they fall to the ground. Native nuts come into maturity September through October. Collect nuts as soon as possible to avoid mold.
  2. Hulls soften naturally over time, allowing easy access to the nut. If the hull feels firm and is difficult to remove, set the nut aside for a few days. The best way to de-hull a small amount of walnuts is by hand, with a chisel and hammer to knock the hull away.

Hand de-hulling is tedious to process a large amount of nuts. Some folks swear the best way to remove a large amount of hulls is to jack up your car and spin the wheels over trays of walnuts. Personally I prefer to use The Maximizer de-huller from Pleasant Hill Grain. The Maximizer also works for corn, and can be purchased for about $50 online.

Ohio Nut Growers Association maintains a list of Hammons Hulling locations that will de-hull black walnuts for you. Processors buy walnuts by the in-shell weight.

If you encounter worms when you are removing hulls, rest assured they do not affect the nut. Dispose of worms with the hulls and proceed to next step.

  1. Rinse de-hulled nuts with a powerful hose or pressure washer to remove debris.
  2. To dry walnuts in-shell, spread nuts on screen bottom trays for good circulation. Optimal drying temperature is 95-100 degrees for 3-4 days; I’ve had success setting the screened trays on cinder blocks and air drying walnuts outdoors. Walnuts are adequately dry when kernels are brittle.
  3. Store in-shell walnuts in freezer, packed in food saver bags or other air tight containers. In-shell nuts keep well for a year.


  1. Remove shell and extract nutmeats before storing. Place the nut lengthwise in a vise grip. Apply pressure until shell cracks. Extract nutmeat with a picking tool.

Shelled nuts keep up to two years in the freezer. Salt-brining and dehydrating preserves shelled nuts. Store preserved nuts in air-tight containers at room temperature.


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  1. Marybeth, You beat me to commenting… Yes, Yes, Yes wear rubber gloves! Otherwise the Walnuts will stain your hands a lovely and dark Walnut color. It wears off… difficult to wash off, if not impossible. Likewise, wear old clothes for the same reason. They are lots of work, but the rewards are great.

    • Me and a friend of mine at age 13 gathered up a bunch of walnuts back in 1990. We decided we would just ripe the soft hulls off ourselves, no gloves. Like everyone here is saying, ” Wear some gloves”, old ones too. We tried everything to wash off our hands, everything we were aware of anyways. That was a long week of school, lol. I’m sure you can imagine the ribbing.

  2. The squirrels love them too. Last winter I had a few pecks, and fed them to the little critters during the coldest months. It kept them off the bird feeders and suet. They even took the hulls off of the walnuts!

  3. the green hulls are what I am after. google it and see what all you can do with hulls dried, powdered, then encapsulated. good as a human dewormer and antifungal as well as many other health benefits. just sayin.

  4. Do walnuts still in the shell spoil? Most of the hulls are black now, as I have not had time to pick them up yet. Is the meat safe inside the shell?

    • I’d preform a quick test of a few nuts. Remove the hulls; if you find worms don’t worry, the worms won’t get through the shell. Dry the nut in warm oven or dehydrator. Crack nuts in a vice and taste test for rancidity.

  5. Forget the vise! Look up “Grand Pa’s Goodie Getter”, it is a great nut cracker. I can generate one Quarter to a pound of nut meat in one hour. It’s well worth the investment. Clean too, it usually leaves all four lobes intact and keeps the shell in large pieces, less chips to clean off the meat.

  6. I’m only staying at my grandmas only for another half a month, and it won’t be fall till then, is it okay to harvest them now?

    • I’d advise against it Matt. Walnuts are not ready to harvest until they fall to the ground, typically September through October. If you harvest before that the nut will not be fully developed.

  7. What you can do with the extra, if you have space to store them, is feed them to the squirrels in the winter. They’ll crack the whole nut. You don’t have to do a thing. I’ve been getting extra nuts from friends who don’t want them, and they keep the squirrels happy and out of my bird feeders.

  8. The hulls have enough tannin to tan animal hides. Just the hulls and water and soak hide for a few days. Stretch pin/nail and dry.

  9. This year I thought I would save a step and allow them to dry in the green hull. They have all dried nicely by leaving them on racks in the sunshine. But now I’ m reading that I shouldn’t have done this. They appear ready to crack open are they going to be inedible since I didn’t remove the green hull?

  10. Lots of good information here, thanks! I have one black walnut tree in the yard with many nuts! I am trying to harvest. Put dropped nuts on a screen, so the outer shell softens,so I can get the nut out. Problem is, they are also molding. Is that going to be a problem? Glad to here about the worms being ok, was worried about that. Advise appreciated!!!

  11. I didn’t take the time to read all the comments, so forgive me if I’m repeating what someone else posted.

    I thought I would mention how I deal with the hulls. I simply set one at a time on my sidewalk and with firm pressure I push down on them with one of my feet and roll it back and forth a few times.
    Simple, quick and easy! 8)

    P.S. I’m wearing shoes when I do it! ;)

  12. Hi, I’m having a problem beating the squirrels to the nuts from my tree. Can I harvest them before they fall and ripen them somehow? Last year I waited patiently only to come out mid September and find they were all taken! Urgent reply would be helpful, they are already up where I can’t reach without a ladder.

    • My experience is that nuts are immature (small, bitter, undeveloped) before they fall. I’d focus my effort on deterring the squirrels instead of harvesting early.


    • I use The Maximizer de-huller from Pleasant Hill Grain. The Maximizer also works for corn, and can be purchased for about $50 online.

    • Think of the nut as a three part process. The whole thing is green when it drops from the trees, turns black , and the nut is inside. It is messy, and gloves are advised unless you want walnut stained hands for weeks and weeks. There really isn’t any easy way or gadget to get at the nut meat. Hammers are the best. The black shreds that you are seeing, Catherine, are just part of the outer shell. The nut is inside.

      • I use a hammer first and if that doesn’t open the nut I use a sledge hammer. I tap gently at first with the sledge hammer and sometimes it smashes the whole nut but the hammer wasnt doing it for me. I go back and forth. My problem is the very tiny shards that are created. I’ve chomped down on them that were hidden in the meat and almost felt like it cracked a tooth so be very careful.

    • Use a penknife. Gently work the tip of the blade into the end of the shell where the stalk would have been then twist the blade and it will easily split in two most of the time. No need for hammers, vices nor nut crackers!

      • This is what I do with a paring knife lol Slice and twist Then pop the nut into a bowl and I scrub em with a small kitchen brush Most of the time I get them when the hulls are green and the inside flesh is still yellow so no staining of the hands Easy peasy

  14. I use The Maximizer de-huller from Pleasant Hill Grain. The Maximizer also works for corn, and can be purchased for about $50 online.

  15. I have a very prolific black walnut tree at my new house (165 yr old house). I have collected bushels and bushels of nuts. I have been busy with other things and they have blackened and the hull has fallen off a lot of them. There are other walnut trees in the neighborhood so I think the squirrels can’t hustle fast enough to get all of them. I also have a squirrel in my attic storing nuts (walnut hulls deter spiders. I opened the attic door and blasted the 1812 Overture with cannons into the attic and the squirrels left and I boarded up where they were getting in). In the meantime they appear to have built a nest in the maple trees on the property. I found it easier to hull the blackened walnuts and retrieve the nuts in their shells. Put the blackened walnuts into burlap bags if you have them and run over them with the car. Pick the nuts in the shell out and put them through a quick rinse with a power hose. Let them dry off in the sun then put them in bags for storage.

  16. A couple of questions, once the outer hull is removed, I sprayed off the not and let them dry. I was not sure how long they we’re suppose to dry in the shell, they have been drying for over 3 weeks. Does it matter, or once dry do you extract the nut right away?

    Interesting comment on the tannin process. Definitely also would be a good natural dye! Anything else that the hull debris is useful for? I believe I read that the hard shell works for tumbling rocks!

      • Well, the comment about the indians using the walnut stain for dye makes perfect sense. I did not know about that little problem and my hands look like I have been working on car engines for the past year. Can’t get this stuff off and it’s ALLLLL under my nails too. HELP!

  17. I have a neighbor that has been washing walnuts in his driveway. He has a portable concrete mixer and he turns it onfills it with walnuts stick a hose in and lets all of the gunk flow down the hill of our street in the gutter. This is staining the street about 2 feet out from the curb, flowing down about one half of a city block right past my driveway! Every time I pull in or out of the driveway it gets on my tires and stains the street more and also the driveway. I do not know what to do as yes, the walnuts are all natural but the stain looks like an oil slick and is EVERYWHERE. And did I mention I am in the process of selling my home. Yeah. May as well forget that idea for a good 2 or 3 years until the stain wears off!!! Wonder if the City would think that is destruction of property? And what is he possibly doing with all of those walnuts???

  18. Don’t sweat this whole walnut thing. Most people overthink this. Here’s how I process walnuts. Pick them up from the ground soon after they fall. Put them into about a 1″ mesh box made with inexpensive fence. Power wash the hulls off. They come out very clean. Spread them out for a day or two to dry. Put them in a bucket or whatever to store. I have left them in a bucket in my garage (non freezing) for 3 years, and have only lost a few. I use a simple nut vise to crack them. It attaches to a work bench, and has two opposing cone shaped “cracker” surfaces. I will send pictures if you email me. After the initial cracking, use wire cutters and/or small bolt cutters to crack out the remaining pieces. Bolt cutters are easier to use. If you use a hammer to crack them, you will eventually smash a finger!

  19. wishladya or anyone that knows,
    you said they can keep indefinitely….have you ever ate them many years after storage?
    i have just cracked a cups worth from walnuts that i have had for many years…say maybe 6 7 or maybe even 8 yrs. i’ve lost count. they taste good, but i came on here to research before making banana nut bread. ive eaten them while cracking them. but, hmmmm to feed them to the family now…im hesitant.

  20. I worked in a electronic parts maker factory. We used ground walnut shells in the sand blaster. Works Great with out affecting Tiny parts.

  21. Can anyone tell me: I have a large cylinder (3′ tall, 1′ wide) of very old black walnuts. Years old… Are they still usable? If not, what is a safe way to dispose, since they can inhibit other growth around roots?

  22. High hill of Nepal is potential area for walnut plantation. We are not getting success in mass multiplication of grafts through tongue grafting. If you have any method of high success in your country, please send me the protocol for it in my email ID. Thank You!

  23. I am looking for the piece that can be added to a concrete mixer that helps to wash black walnuts. We work doing black walnuts and when we wash them we put them in a concrete mixer. We was told there is a piece that can be added to the mixer to help clean the walnuts. I would applicate any help where we can buy this.

  24. We have been collecting and cracking the walnuts that have fallen in our yard but are finding that the meat is soft…slightly squishy. My husband says they taste fine but I can’t find anything about why they are soft. Any ideas? Are they still ok to use?

  25. Browsing these comments brought many good memories. . . first, you could tell every fall which farm boys had to help hull the black walnuts – they had brown hands for weeks. Then, for those that think every black walnut tree, every year, will produce good nuts, the answer is no. Our farm had a number of trees. Some were good most years, some never produced good nuts, and some seasons were great, others poor. This was northern Indiana. (I tried growing them here in central Florida – no, they need freezes.) Our mother was an expert at harvesting them. First, they were poured onto our graveled driveway, where she drove over them until the outer hulls were loosened and removed. A day drying off the yucky stuff, and we gathered them and put them onto screen doors laid over buckets. They were washed with a hose, and left to dry, sometimes a few days, sometimes a week. They were then put into mesh sacks, saved from potatoes, and hung from the rafters of the pump house until winter. There was little time until snowfall to crack them. An old “sad iron” inverted between the knees was her anvil, and a hammer cracked them. In later years, (her 90’s) she had a friend who cracked them, for the benefit of a few quarts of nutmeats. My favorite memory, though, is when we took a bucketful to Ohio, and were washing them down in the back yard. Our daughter let out a peal of laughter, and pointed to the ground. “We won’t have to come out and shine for our fishworms tonight – they are coming up right now!” The tannic acid was driving big beavertail nightcrawlers right out of the ground! How I miss those trees and nuts every time I have to buy the nutmeats in the store. Oh, they do go rancid if not kept in the freezer. You can tell by the orangish color which nutmeats will not be good.

    • My great Aunt Della would do the same, except after hulling she threw them in a pail of water, floaters were thrown out, then peoceded dry and hang in mesh orange bags for winter cracking. Best molasses cookies ever!

    • Some years bumper crop, some years none. This is the way it has always been. My Great Aunt Lottie used to crack black walnuts and used to make cookies and sweetbreads. She also gave pounds of shelled black walnuts to friends and family for Christmas. This year I am processing as many nuts as I can to do the same.

      It definitely drives out the nightcrawlers!

  26. a hand cranked old style corn sheller works good for removing hulls. Does anybody know of a power nut cracker that works? we crack them so the birds can get at the meat for winter bird feeding.

  27. a heads up……

    i dont wear gloves unless it’s a hazard, i dont care about my hands being stained but as a first time hand huller of my nuts, no bells rang in my head when reading about staining/tannic acid.
    tannic ACID! after only hulling about 15 qts, between my fingers have burned away to a painful rawness.

    you have been warned, now for some ointment.

  28. My great Aunt Della would hull the nut by driving over them in her dirt driveway and throw them in a bucket of water. Discard floater. She dried and stored them in old netting from oranges. In the winter, after all the fall harvesting and canning was done, she would grab a bag and start cracking.

  29. As for the concrete mixer. I bought one @ Lowes for $299. It has 3 mixing blades. Blades are 15 ” long. I ordered 3 wire brushes from Zoro, they are !6″ long. I got 3 C clamps that opened to be able to clamp one brush to each of the mixing blades in the mixer. The brushes are made by Kraft but sold by Zoro. Mix dry. Put nuts in mixer without liquid. I haven’t tried this yet, but I have a large waste basket full of empty cracked shells that I might throw in with the whole Walnut shells, but I don’t think it will be necessary. I mixed about 2-3 gallons of nuts from last fall for about 10 minutes and chean as a whistle. Mixer rotates counter clockwise as you are looking into the mixer drum,so put wooden part of brush (brush laying on its side, bristles to the right wooden part of brush against mixer blade) Nuts should dry quickly without any hull left on nut. First year doing this and can’t wait . I want enough nut to consume a hankful per day for a year. I have heart issues so Walnuts should be good for my ticker. I hope this helps you all. God bless you all.

  30. A tree trimming company just cut a bunch of walnut limbs off near the powerlines. The nuts are not ripe yet. Will they ripen on their own so I can harvest or are they not usable?

  31. I have a question. On our property there are 3 black walnut trees and I have picked up around 6000 of them so far. I recently got the idea to open them and use them. Some of the green hulls have black spots on them and they are very easy to remove. Some are completely black and hard and I use a knife to open but quite easy. Then I have the solid green ones that are very solid and difficult to open. My questions are when do I know when they are rotten? The ones I have opened are more black but maybe I have to wash them to see any brown. Are they okay to use? How soon after falling should I open them? What is the best way to dry them? I can’t put them outside in the sun as we have mostly clouds and rain, and the many squirrels with take them. How do I know which are good and which are bad? Should I let the very green ones ripen a bit until I see a brown spot on them before opening? I would appreciate any advice and information you can give me. Even at my email address. And please the sooner the better. Thank you.

      • Sorry I have not received any response. Now I have around 14,000 black walnuts and have opened around 1600 by hand. I do not want to see them getting moldy and rotting. I hate to see perfectly good food go to waste, so I hope opening them will prevent this. I also wrote to a company about buying them and received no response. So if anyone knows someone who is willing to buy these black walnuts, please let me know ASAP.

    • Check for a Hammons black walnut buyer in your area. If you don’t see any signs, contact them direct or contact your county agriculture agent. They buy.

    • The best way we have found to dry them is to hang them in a dry, airy area in mesh bags (like potatoes, onions come in). The green hulls will soften and start turning black in a few days after harvesting. You can hull them at any time after they fall off the tree but hulls come off a lot easier when darkened and black. You can tell which nuts are good by hulling them, toss the nuts in a bucket off water and if they float toss them. The good ones will sink to the bottom. Sorry, I just found this site and read your questions! I’m a couple of years late!

  32. I am from Oklahoma my husband and I have hunting land that we lease and there is several black walnut trees that we gather the Walnuts from. Well this year we have gathered about 3 five gallon buckets of nuts so far,so my husband came up with the idea of using a PVC pipe I think it’s a 21\2 or 3 inc. pipe. Sit the Walnut that is still in the hull on the opening of the pipe hit with a hammer it takes the hull right off and sends the nut to the bottom of the pipe, sit another one up and repeat until pipe is full take a stick push out and do again until you clear all your Walnuts. We spread the Walnuts out to dry. We plan on doing more. When ready to pick out the nut we​ will do that and put in freezer in seal a meal bag’s that will keep for several years.

  33. I put them in a 1″ mesh fence wire container, and power wash the hulls off. They come out very clean. Don’t let the hulls dry, or they will be hard to get off by any method.

  34. Sorry, this is the most recent reply and hope someone can please help answer this question. Is it okay to shell the black walnuts without drying( curing). I have a nut cracker my grandfather made many years ago, just for black walnuts, we worked all day to hull and crack the nuts, and we didn’t dry them first. We even ate some of them. Thanks

  35. Read back posts. Lots of good information there. Be sure you never pick from the trees, just nuts from the ground. I sure would have made a box of screen wire and used a pressure washer, if I had one when I used to work with the walnuts. They would have gotten cleaner than the driving-over them method. I never tried to remove green hulls, (Not talking about the shell here, only the outer hulls), only when they got black. ALWAYS use gloves. When the shells have dried, crack a couple and see how the nutmeats are. They may need to cure longer, but do not hang where the squirrels and other rodents can get to them. Store cracked nutmeats in the freezer. If you see any that have turned orangish, they are rancid, and will not taste good. Enjoy!

    • I love to eat the black walnuts, so I bought 2 bushels from someone. I was not prepared for the hulls as I live in a city apartment, so I put the nuts, hulls and all in disposable foil pans and baked at 350 for 30 minutes. Only way I could think of, other than throwing them away. What are my chances the meat is good?

      • I can only imagine how hard the hulls are now. If you have a place you can put down a drop cloth for protection, (being such a black walnut lover, I would sure try a few!), and wearing protective gloves – try a hammer and take the hulls off a few. If you do not have a vice to set them on, (or an old sad iron between the knees like we used to), try placing one hammer on the floor, the nut on the head, and hitting it with another hammer. Then crack the nut open and see what you have. A scrap of wood, marble, or even a stone might work as an anvil, as primitive as it sounds. Just do not use good furniture! It takes a good whack to break the shell. My grandpa was good at hitting them just right to get out halves, but not me.
        Good luck.

  36. We have two black walnut trees–one produces large nuts, the other small nuts. We use the large ones and feed the rest to the squirrels in our back field (hulls and all–they gnaw through then and get the nut meat). Some years our trees have shriveled nuts…I read in an article in our local newspaper that in years when there is drought or less rain the trees produce the largest nuts (the reproductive mode kicks in)–don’t know if this is true or not, will have to take more care to see how my nut trees react to the rainfall. My husband’s family used to allow a good frost to fall on the nuts before harvesting (they said it made the nuts better) and let them cure outdoors all winter and then cracked them in spring. I don’t know how true this is…just sharing… I crack the nuts and to store them I put them into 1/2 pint large mouth jars and use my vaccuum sealer to suck all the air out. I have stored them successfully this way for several years at a stretch (that is if they last that long!)…

    • Don’t know if frost makes the nut meats better, but it makes the hulls come off more easily…not more messily, though.

  37. I have at least 10,000 black walnuts and I have just recently started opening them. The first time without gloves, my fingers were brown and solid black. I have read baking soda with toothpaste or dish soap and a brush. So I tried it and it slowly works. The blackness is almost gone. It will be a process. So far I have opened around 1300 and I want to get the hull off as many as possible before they get moldy. I have thrown away around 3 dozen due to a lot of mold on the inside shell. And I noticed the one ones I removed the hulls on a few days ago are starting to get moldy. Is there a problem with them getting moldy? Should I throw them in a bucket of water to help prevent mold.? Or will the nuts inside the shell be okay until I get to cracking?

  38. Please go back to the beginning of the article, and read the posts that are responses to similar questions – good stuff in here.
    We always hulled as fast as we could, so the nuts could get a good drying time. I love the power washer idea, although I cannot use it here. They do not grow in central Florida. Maybe the next time I get to Indiana at my sister’s farm, we can try that…I just wish I had the problem of what to do with walnuts! No one else in my family likes the taste I grew up with, and ate at every opportunity. Black walnuts make many things taste so much better.

  39. I have pressure washed the hulls off nuts this year for the first time. I developed blisters everywhere the pieces of hull landed on my skin. On my arms, legs and face. You can feel it burning as it happens. Be very careful doing this. If your body is sensitive to what is in the hulls you may have to go see a doctor as I did and get a steroid to help clear it up. I tried the cement mixer as well and had the hulls and rocks I put in cake in the bottom of the mixing chamber. Try pressure washing small amounts of nuts at a time. It does do a great job of cleaning them off.

  40. What if we didn’t cure the shells, other than they sat in a five gallon pail for a couple weeks, then we cracked them. The nutmeats are soft. Are they still able to to be cured or hardened?

  41. Hi,I have a big box of walnuts, hulled by running the car over them ,??it is cold in Mi. Do I still leave the walnuts outside to dry ?

  42. My black walnut tree was loaded this year and when I heard they sold for good money I started picking them up from the ground and storing them as is in my wash room. I started to notice them smelling stronger and when I checked some of the ones on the bottom looked like hey were starting to mold. They had a white powder on them some more than others but none totally white. I took them all out of the boxes and containers they were in and spread them flat in my shed on newspaper so my floor wouldn’t be stained afterwards. I was told I have about 15 pounds and that they went for about $10 per pound around this area since there aren’t many black walnut trees around. Now I’m worried that I may no have harvested them correctly and not being able to sell them. I didn’t do anything but pick them and store in containers still green or black in color. After a few days I noticed they had dried up into what looks like black walnuts to me. I’m now wondering if I was supposed to remove the hull and get the walnut out? I opened a few and they are pretty hard to crack even with a hammer on concrete and the meat inside seemed to not be done yet. It tasted fine tho just on the mushy side. My thoughts were to dry them under a fan until they all shrivel into walnuts and take them to sell. Is this the correct process? How long should I let them dry and are the ones with mold on them OK if I wash them off? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I really hope to sell them and I really enjoyed collecting them every day. I’m already sad that there aren’t many left to fall and then there gone until next year I suppose.

  43. I just processed about 3000 of them from a single tree next to my driveway. They fall mostly onto my driveway and onto the roof of the in-law suite where my mother-in-law resides. The previous owner decided it was a good idea to plant it about six feet from the house or to build the in-law suite within six feet of it. I have mostly kept them picked up everyday into any bin and bucket that’s available and let them go soft. A few nights of below freezing temps makes good work of this. Over about a week and a few hours a day, I dehulled them by hand wearing a disposable nitrile glove (blue surgical type) with green chemical handling glove over top. They have had use doing this before so some of the brown stuff seeps through. I was able to dehull about 400-500/hr. Even though many had mold on them as some sat in containers for weeks, it doesn’t penetrate the shell unless left for too long or if temperatures are warm. Very important is the washing process if you don’t want to be having to wear gloves while cracking them. The very first thing is to fill a large container (garbage can) with hulled nuts and cover with water to 3/4 full. Turn them over and mix them up and some will float. I call these ‘floaters’ and they should be discarded. I did an experiment a few years ago with these and found that most are empty of nutmeat or are poorly developed. Discard these as you only want to save the better ones. Find a way to agitate the nuts in the bucket with water. A shovel works well by putting it in and by spinning back and forth by the handle similar to a washing machine agitator. Do this for a few minutes. They have a rough surface and by each bumping against one another, quickly strips any remaining hull. Then dump the contents into a milk crate on the ground. Rinse off anything remaining with the hose, rinse the garbage can and dump the crate back in to repeat the process. Repeat about four to five times. This can be a time consuming process with a garden hose and a lot of water. I managed to process about 3000 in 3 hours. Next time, I would like to try the process using a cement mixer with some angular crushed stone. This would definitely speed up the process! Next I bring the washed nuts inside to the room in the basement where the woodstove is. I laid out all 3000 one layer thick on old 4×4 ceiling tile boards which I laid out two on the pool table and a third up on some boxes. The outsides dry quickly but it’s about two weeks before the nutmeat is sufficiently dry and I can pack them in boxes. Some of them sprouted mold from within the crevices of the outer shell as these were the ones with visible mold on them before washing process and it quickly dries up within a few days. I think the tree I have might be a cultivar as the nuts are a little bit longer and larger and seem to have a ‘beak’ at the top which can be knocked off. A nut is in quadrants which cleaves apart at north, south, east and west. Using vise-grips, I crack the the nut lengthwise at NE, NW, SE, and SW which in the middle of each compartment holding the nutmeat. The shell usually breaks off without even crushing the nutmeat. The key is to adjust the screw on the grips so that there is only just enough give on it to crack the nut. After a while you will get a good ‘feel’ of what works. I might try to sell some this year and see how it goes. In Ontario there’s no market for them like down in the midwest and they are largely unavailable in stores here. I live near Kingston and there are some specialty restaurants and bakeries in town that could have some potential.

  44. As a young man I was partnered with a senior computer troubleshooter and we traveled as needed to provide local support. John was a black man whose manner I found interesting and enjoyable compared to a lot of the staid corporate business interactions one most often found at work. He could put things in very simple terms. He obviously had country in his upbringing from somewhere.

    One day while leaving an account, John stated let’s stop over there and pick up some walnuts. This was sometime right before thanksgiving. He then pointed out towards a stand of trees far into the distance. I could not fathom how he could possibly detect walnuts from a half of mile away. But he did and I helped him gather some and put them in his SUV in an empty box found inside.

    Over the next weekend, John went out of town on a two week business trip. I believe he took an airport limousine to the airport as that was acceptable business practice. I talked with him after he returned and he explained why he had to take leave immediately when he got back instead of coming back to work.

    I was surprised to hear John explain that he had to buy a new car! His old one was pretty nice.

    He said when he called the insurance company to explain his claim they couldn’t believe it and had to come out to inspect the damage. The car was totaled. By now I guess you can figure out what happened while John was away but I’ll tell you anyway.

    Squirrels like walnuts as some here said. In fact just this year I had collected a half bushel of nuts, planning to let them brown a little before removing the husk. These were set on my covered back porch. One day in passing I thought I had noticed something a little different about the basket of nuts. That there seemed less of them. Thought maybe it was just my imagination. Another couple of days until I went back and then the truth hit me. The dam squirrels had almost completely emptied my cache. There are still literally hundreds of nuts on the ground but they had to have mine too!

    So back to John`s totaled Nissan Pathfinder. Somehow his neighborhood rodents discovered that there were Black Walnuts in his vehicle, and while he was away, chewed through the rubber around the sun roof to get them. I believe I remember there being two corpses found therein. Unfortunately they never could figure how to get out. I don’t know if the nuts sustained them or not or how many days they worked at it but they chewed through almost every square inch of the inside of that car trying to get out. They chewed through the seats, the dashboard ,the headliner, steering wheel and even the plastic trim on the doors. I think it was an understatement that the car was totaled. I guess it is funny to think about if it’s not your car. So finally, the moral of this story could be, be careful where you put your nuts! I try to. Hope you enjoy this true story.

  45. Is there a way to further seperate hull pieces from nutmeats after shelling. Nothing worse than ENJOYING a cookie & chomping down on a piece of hull. :-(

  46. Could you soak chopped up hulls in water until you get the color you’re looking to use? But I would not use a lot of water just enough to cover them. Then you would have a water based stain. I suppose you could also use an oil, also.

  47. Our house has have a very large 150 year-old black walnut tree that drops several hundred nuts each fall. Here are some tips I’ve discovered to make the process easier and keep your hands from getting stained:

    1. If you have lots to collect, buy a nut gatherer, which makes collecting them very quick. The gatherer has a long handle with a football-shaped wire roller on the end. Here in Canada, Home Hardware sells them online, but you might be able to find something similar where you live.
    2. Roll the gatherer over the nuts and they squeeze through the wires and get trapped inside. Then just part the wires to release the nuts.
    3. To remove the green hulls, just drop the nuts on the driveway and with rainboots on, roll them under your foot. This will leave brown stains on the driveway which eventually fade.
    4. Kick the hulled ones aside and then use the nut gatherer to pick them up again.
    5.Power wash the hulled nuts inside the nut gatherer to remove any extra bits of hull, until they are clean.
    6. Dry on racks and preserve as described in the article above.

  48. Hi. I’m visiting Wyoming and found lots of Walnuts on the ground. It’s still very cold at night with highs of 72-74 during the days. Are the walnuts safe to harvest & process? I shelled one and it looked healthy, no worms or mold. I’m from the Caribbean and this is all new to me. Please advise.

  49. If I peel all of my walnuts, how can i dry them? the city where i live has alot of humidity in the air so drying them outside may cause them to rot? can i put them on a tray in the oven at 100? for how long?

  50. I have a question I hope someone can give me an answer to. I always hull my walnuts when they are in the green hull as soon as they fall to the ground. This year, 2019) I started hulling them in late August. I put the hulled nuts on a tarp to dry ion the floor of my garage, and just started cracking some to see if they were ripe yet (it is Sept. 17,2019). Every one that I cracked was dried up! I’ve never had this problem before and have always done my walnuts in this fashion and they were just fine. Does anyone know what I should do? Is there anyway to plump them up after they have dried or what could have happened to cause them to all be dried up in the shell? I would appreciate knowing if anyone else has had this problem, and if so, what can I do. I don’t want to lose all these nuts and all my hard work for nothing.

  51. Walnuts should be picked AFTER the first frost, and always the good green ones that fall- check daily. If you have walnut trees, you have squirrels, chipmunks that will steal and store them for winter. Therefore, do NOT leave them easily accessible. After driving over a black garbage bag full of them of them with the car, the husk comes off rather well. After rinsing the cleaned nuts, I hang them in net bags out of reach to dry in my greenhouse, again, out of any access to critters. Bounce them around for a week or so, so they ALL dry.
    Then you can crack them with a hammer and store the nuts in the freezer for use later. Be careful, cause the shells fly when the hammer hits.

  52. I put them in a fine mesh (3/4″) fence “barrel”, power wash them to remove the husks, and let them dry. I have a bucket of them in my garage that I have been eating out of for six years. No need to freeze!

  53. Thank you these were so helpful. I thought we should leave them in the shell, but my husband has picked most of the nut meats out already. We plan to put them in the freezer. We had some two years ago and put them in the seal a meal bags in the freezer, but after the second year some had dried up and did not have the great flavor. Not going to hold so many over this year. Hope these will be ok for the year. Sound ok?

  54. Thank you these post were very helpful. We had kept some for 2 years in the seal-a-meal bags in the freezer and the second year some were dried up and did not have the good flavor. This year we have dried them and picked the nut meats out and plan to put in the freezer for just this year. I hope these will stay fresh, but two years seemed not as fresh. Any ideas why? Black Walnut meats.

  55. Best way to find the walnuts with meat inside is to put them in wstet. Any floaters need to be tossed out, it means there is no meat in them. I use a hammer to dehull. 2 hits and the nut pops out. Takes practice to know how hard to hit them. I did 42 gallons in 30 mins. We have better than 40 trees. Once I get them dehulled, I will have all winter to de-shell them.

  56. Would some one be interested in harvesting my walnuts? three trees
    est, 150 gallons unhulled
    do you have walnut harvesting equipment?

  57. Even though I have taken the outer shell off and washed the nuts and dried them in the sun they have mold on them and not djust a litle. I dont know why or what to do

  58. Why did you wash them? Maybe that moisture contributed to the mold. At this point, I’m sorry to say, they might just be squirrel food.

  59. What if I de-husk them, let them dry… and now what? Can I force-dry them in my oven for a couple of hours, set at 160-170? Then, is there a good way to crack them open without creating shrapnel everywhere?

  60. Just a thought, if you just want a few bushels , in Ontario to dehusk them , wait till they turn black , put on shoes , work boots , something you don’t care about staining . Roll the nuts under your foot , works great , will make a mess , so do it were you don’t care , power wash , dry , delicious !

  61. Hello…

    Is it necessary to remove the husk if I plan to plant them and start new trees in spring? Any tips on that? I have about 500 collected drying in single layers on plastic screens/grates.

  62. I have a question please. I collected, hulled, cleaned, and cured (for 10 weeks) several hundred black walnuts. Now I am working VERY HARD to crack them and pry the nut meat from the pieces of the shell. I have read some notes about dampening the shells before cracking to help keep the nut meats whole or in larger pieces. How do I do the dampening? Is this brief wrap in a towel, or soaking for a day? I have seen references to both techniques.

    Thanks in advance. This was my COVID project and it is filling my time as I hunker down here at home.

  63. Just moved to WV and we have a black walnut tree.
    We are finding walnuts on the ground and it’s only August.
    I removed the hulls and are washing them. Is all this worth it since it may be too early?
    Should I wait till September and start again?

  64. Hello. I came up with a method to clean the blackish yellowish stuff left on the nuts after de-hulling them. Fill up a 5 gallon bucket half way with the de-hulled nuts. Get a paint metal mixer with a long shaft, that attaches to a hand drill. Throw five cups of crushed rock chips, used for ice on the road. (They are about 1/4 to 1/8″ size with sharp edges) start mixing and after a few minutes you will be able to see the actual color of the ribbed nuts.


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