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85 responses to “Black Walnuts and Holiday Cheer”

  1. Mark

    Hank, I found your blog for the Outdoor Blogger Network. Love the posts.

    When I lived on he farm in Iowa, we also used the black walnut hulls gathered from the farmyard, though not for culinary purposes.

    The hulls were placed in a metal bucket with water poured over them and placed over a fire to boil.The hulls provide a great natural dye (that will also color your hands should you skip the gloves while hulling the nuts). Metal traps that were used for raccoons, muskrats, etc. were dropped in to remove their scent (and on new traps dulled the metallic shine).

  2. Rachel @ Dog Island Farm

    Esperanza of Pluck and Feather Farm served us Nocino, a wonderful liqueur from black walnut hulls, during a dinner party a few months back. It had a slight licorice flavor. Spicy and slightly sweet. I highly recommend it!

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  5. David Kindler

    My Grandmother was a black walnut maven. She lived in rural Iowa and had several walnut trees in the yard. Her secret was to soak the walnuts in bucket of water until the hulls were black and saturated. Then she ran them through an old corn hulling machine. It was a hand crank, but way the hell quicker and easier than trying to whittle them off.

    Then she’d sit all winter at the kitchen table with a rock with an indentation in it to hold the walnuts. Probably an American Indian artifact my Grandfather picked up in the field. She’d hit them with a ball peen hammer and then pick them out in complete halves.

    Oatmeal cookies with black walnuts in them is such a distinct memory I can almost taste them now. Black Walnuts…..

  6. jenjenk

    oh my gosh…I had no idea how much work went into hulling/shelling these things!!!! I would’ve stabbed myself [unintentionally at first then purposefully after an hour] a million times. wow. WOW…

  7. Jen

    Out of curiousity, is the juice in teh hull or the shell (I’m guessing hull, but..)

    I’ve been considering hunting down some walnut trees to collect dying material for yarn.

  8. Jenny

    Thanks for the great idea for black walnuts. We picked several gallons a while back visiting family in Springfield, MO and I think I quit after a few hours and a few tablespoons of nutmeats. The family graciously sends pre-cleaned nutmeat now, and maybe I’ll get a chance to try good old-fashioned snowballs. I think this is a nice idea that will highlight the flavor well.
    Have you tried pickled black walnuts? I saw them on an English blog somewhere (as something to eat along with a cheese plate) and ordered them from a place in MO, but they were really nasty. I’m not really sure what they’re really supposed to be like – this was like eating a pickled dirt ball.

    Congrats on the book – the cover (so far) looks great! Can’t wait to order it.


  9. Carol Peterman

    Reading your post makes me miss walking around the Chico State Campus. I remember all the walnut trees. They made such a mess on the bike path! What a perfect cookie to showcase such a prized ingredient.

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  11. Jeanette

    So glad to be participating in this wonderful event with fellow bloggers like you, in support of a worthwhile cause. Informative post on walnuts as I’ve never hulled or shelled walnuts before.

  12. Oregon Coast Gardener

    Did you ever try a bench vise for cracking the walnuts? We had a windfall (can’t remember who gave them) of black walnuts several years ago and it seems like that was our solution to cracking them. Might be slow– one at a time– but less explosive.

  13. rebecca

    I just discovered a great new way to hull mine:
    Waste disposal. Really. Ten seconds in there and the hull is in half. Of course then you have to eat a black walnut that’s been down the waste disposal, but it saves me from destroying my countertops with a hammer….

    I’ll try the outside thing. I have biological countermeasures too.

  14. Tyler

    I feel a tad sick to my stomach. We threw away a garbage can full of black walnuts from our tree this fall thinking they were poisonous. Had I known otherwise, I certainly would have tried to tackle the feat. If you pick up the dropped walnuts and they’re still pretty green, can you just store them in containers until they darken? Almost all of the walnuts we picked up either were greenish or yellow. We’re from North Dakota, by the way.

  15. Cork@Cork'sOutdoors

    After a year technical writing for a Russian-owned CTI company in the 1990s, tea cakes are my downfall, Hank. But, hours working on black walnuts by hand I leave to artisans like you. :) I’m more of a “bigger bang for your buck” kind of guy when it comes to collecting for my dining table: why I prefer to hunt elk than deer, moose more than elk…

    And a special thanks to you and Holly for such great photos fitting your fine description: I can’t tell you how many stories and emails I get from people doing what you’re doing–GLOVELESS! You’ve probably saved quite a few from a trip to the dispensary for suture thread and surgical needle, or worse cat gut if they slice all the way through their palm to bone. 😉

  16. Carolina Rig

    Never used the sheller you link to, but I have used a vise. Even so, I have to agree with you, I prefer the hammer method. I find the longer I wait (dry out) the easier it is to pick the meats. Though, there is a point of no return! I hope to harvest a gallon or so next week at my mom’s house.

  17. Meredith

    That’s inspirational–I’ve often collected our native California walnuts only to get rid of them after being too lazy to process them. I’ll have to try harder…

    Also remember not to put the hulls into your regular compost pile, as they might kill your plants unless they are really, really well decomposed.

  18. Brian

    Here is a good trick for hulling a bunch of black walnuts at one time. Fill a five gallon plastic bucket or similarly sized container about half full of unhulled walnuts. As you stated, black gooey ones are best, but you can get by with some that are green. Now fill the bucket with water until the all of the hulls are covered.

    Now the fun part. Take a coat hanger and squash it together to flatten it. You want to have two parallel strands of wire touching (or nearly touching) each other. Take this wire and chuck it into an electric drill – either corded or cordless will work. Now stick the wire into the bucket. It should touch the bottom or come close. Turn on the drill and proceed to make a walnut hull smoothy. Make sure you are wearing clothes that you don’t mind staining.

    Several minutes of blending should remove all of the hulls from the nuts. The shells themselves are the hardest organic substance on the planet earth, so you’re not going to harm them. Dump the waste water someplace where it won’t leave a stain. Note that the hull water is a fairly powerful herbicide, so you may not want to dump it in your garden or in the middle of a manicured lawn.

    You may need to rinse the nuts in clean water once more or even go through another round of power scrubbing to get them totally hull-free. After that, just put them somewhere to dry for a day or two and then you can get down to the really difficult business of shelling them. I have no good tricks for that other than to outsource the work to child laborers. I find that using a bench vice works better than a hammer, or at least is easier to clean up.

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  20. Daydreamer Desserts

    Great choice for the dessert course, these are one of my absolute favorite cookies. I’ve yet to make them using black walnuts, they sound exquisite!

  21. Bbq Dude

    If only I could get my hands on some Oregon truffles *or* some black walnuts. Not much to forage for in the San Diego region. Plenty to fish for, but little to forage for…

  22. IF

    I saw the ravens pick the walnuts, fly 100ft into the air and drop them on the asphalt. I never found enough meat to try them myself.

    How are those American pickled walnuts prepared? I absolutely love Armenian walnut preserve, made from young walnuts in a dark, sugary syrup. Here are recipes:

    I have not prepared them myself yet. People that have warned me that it is a lot of effort. Thats why in the East it typically is a granny laborer thing.

  23. Jessa

    Oh, Russian Tea Cakes. Best. Cookies. Ever.

    Those bastards will be my downfall. You can count on it.

    I’m getting a giant bucket of walnuts from a friend in the next week or so (the boring kind), but have a good spot for blacks – just haven’t gotten out to it! Ugh. I need more hours in a day.

  24. edible cville

    I miss our old house, not for the house itself but for our black walnut trees. Every harvest season they’d drop on the ground and we’d roll over them with our cars. The cracked walnuts gave off the most amazing smell :) :) So proud to be blogging with you for Share Our Strength! (I did the soup course). My mother used to make these cookies…and I’d forgotten *Going to look for her recipe* 😀 Cheers!

  25. Rose

    When I was a little kid, maybe four years old, and we were poor (I had a single mom who was an artist) my mom and I used to take burlap sacks and walk around town picking up black walnuts. There were trees all over our neighborhood, including one in our front yard. My mom hated it because it dropped the walnuts in the lawn. She disdained black walnuts–her dad was a farmer who had an English walnut orchard, and she thought black walnuts were too much work. I always thought they were pretty much impossible to crack without smashing the nut to bits. But anyway, we would walk around with our gunny sacks and pick up walnuts and sell them to this little market in town. I’d completely forgotten about this. Your picture of the walnuts in different stages of development took me back. They are so familiar to me, but I haven’t seen a black walnut in years and I think most of those trees have been cut down now. Cities don’t like trees that make a mess.

  26. Lise

    Oh, good grief! I’ve had a black walnut tree right next to my house that’s housed a family of fox squirrels for ages. I always thought it was some sort of poisonous squirrel delicacy bearing tree 😉

    Very informative post; thank you. There are still some entirely blackened ones on the tree that apparently I’m going to get down in the next few days and check out.

  27. Bill

    My mother always gave the task of cracking open walnuts during the holiday season. She would always be gifted with a grocery bag full of walnuts by someone at work — she would bring them home — and it was my job to shell them so she could use the meats for holiday treats. My method — which I developed over the course of a few years — works pretty darn well. I use one of those gallon sized ziplock backs — fill it with 20 to 30 walnuts and seal it shut. I then lay the bag o’ nuts flat on a concrete surface — and make sure the tip of each nut is pointing up. I then deliver a nice whack with a hammer — and if I do it right with just the right pressure — I can crack that shell into four or five pieces without harming the nut inside.

    Another source of already shelled nuts? The American Legion Hall in Rio Linda. Someone out there has access to many a tree — and you’ll find quart-sized bags of already shelled walnuts for $3 to $4 per bag. Unlike the nuts you find in your local supermarket — these have that “freshly hulled” smell.

  28. Jose

    I live in the lower peninsula west coast side of Michigan, Muskegon to be exact.
    Black walnuts trees abound. I seem to be the only one other than the squirrels collecting them.
    Lucky me……
    I use a hammer to remove the hulls while they’re green green/yellow
    it’s messy but once you get the hang of it, it ain’t so bad.

    Banana nut bread made with black walnuts rules.
    I don’t even mind the occasional bit of tooth jarring shell.

  29. Joy

    Thanks for this great article. I enjoyed the memories that returned to me of my frustration of that wonderful nut meat so close and yet so hard to acquire. My family tried many methods none to any success. I’m amazed if you can really get more than 6 ounces in 6 hours. I must try your way!

  30. Linda Collery

    I grew up in Ohio and my grandmother regularly made Black Walnut Cake. It is one of my favorite childhood food memories. I have recreated the recipe (we could not find it) by talking to my relatives and researching recipes for the cake. There is a great article and recipes for black walnuts in Raymond Sokolov’s book, “Fading Feast.” The tree that grows in Ohio is the American Eastern black walnut. Incredible, distinctive flavor. I purchase them now from Hammons Nuts. I don’t have access to the trees in Northern CA and I don’t have the patience to go through hulling/cracking process. There is also Black Walnut ice cream, an incredible, traditional dessert. I wrote an article on black walnuts for the “San Jose Mercury News” quite a few years ago. Wonder if it is still available online? We do own a gingko tree, Hank. Have you had any experience with gingko nuts?

  31. David Kindler

    This isn’t what my grandmother used, but looks promising –

    They even promise walnut hulling.

  32. David Borad

    Wow! What a memory you’ve brought back. When I was a kid in the 70s, we were friends with a family that had an orchard of 20 acres of black walnuts down in Visalia. I remember the harvesting and the walnut juice stains all over EVERYTHING. And we must have saved the hulls, because my grandmother was a weaver/spinner/dyer and I know she used the walnut hulls at one time or another.

    I just stumbled across your blog, and will definitely be back…

  33. Tom @ Tall Clover Farm

    Black walnuts are indeed a rare treat. I try to at least harvest and hull a couple cups (uh, that’s about 5 hours) so I can make the incomparable black walnut ice cream, ooooh wee doggie it’s intense, rich and good.

  34. Nathan Rupley

    Great blog. The walnuts here in the East have thicker husks. I gathered 80 pounds this year. I used Samuel Thayer’s husking method, but I’m not sure if it works on Western walnuts. Anyway, I just used a 6 foot long heavy stick to “stomp” them. They usually split right open, and you can remove the husk by hand.

    I should have a more detailed account up on my foraging/art blog soon.


  35. Adele

    I live in London, Ontario and we have a long row of black walnut trees. They make the deck lethal in September and the darned squirrels don’t help. Apparently they only produce nuts every other year (so says my arborist) and this year is a bumper crop. I have started collecting and hulling. Thanx for the helpful hints.

  36. Brenda Briggs

    I remember harvesting black walnuts as a child from my grandparents yard…gave us grandkids something to keep us busy! Our reward was holiday fudge! We were given gloves and buckets, but often ended up with stained hands anyway! This was typically October in WV, we’d hull a bit later, after they sat and turned ‘blacker’ a while then the nuts had to dry until right before the big event and it was cracking time. Only the older kids were allowed to do this, as hammers were required! We cracked and picked for days on end at times, and I loved every minute of it! I was the eldest grandchild, so I have to remind some of the younger ones of details when we reminisce at holidays now. My grandparents are long gone, but their love for black walnuts will live on in me forever. There is no flavor like that!

    We dried them on newspaper in the basement before hulling, which happened on the paper as well, then the cleanup of hulls was a bit easier. I remember stepping on them and rolling them mostly, but I’m sure that’s much less practical than some of the methods I’ve seen here! The nuts were put into buckets and after cleanup, were laid out on a fresh layer on paper to dry for the time remaining, a few greener ones were put in the oven on low (150-200) for a while (couple hours or so maybe, not sure on that). We always used hammers to open the nuts and were praised on larger chunks, altho with fudge, the chips were just fine!

    I have collected a nice batch from a neighbor and am looking very much forward to holiday fudge this year, as I knew it as a child! In looking up methods of hulling and cracking, I came across this page and want to say thank you for bringing back those great memories and you can only imagine the impact that my holiday packages this year will bring to many families of my cousins who lived this with me! Yes, they’re all getting walnut fudge!

  37. Peter Schappach

    Awesome article, Hank! My basement floor here in Michigan is covered with hulled black walnuts, just drying out a bit before the task of shelling them begins. I have a 2 X 4 with a 1 5/8″ hole drilled through it which I use to hull my walnuts. Smack ’em through the hole with a rubber mallet into a bucket below. I then barely cover them with water and, similar to another blogger, I use a cordless drill with one of the paint mixing wands attached. The mixing action and the abrasiveness of the nuts whipping around in the bucket cleans the hulls off easily, although you may have to change the water a couple of times.

    When it comes to shelling them, I use a bench vise. I cover the top with a plastic bowl to redirect errant pieces of shell and nutmeat and rig up a cardboard contraption to direct the pieces into a bucket on the floor. I use a nut pick to remove the meat. Biggest problem I have is eating as I pick. Takes me forever to amass enough nuts for a recipe. Still, processing black walnuts is a wonderfully rewarding way to kill several weeks during winter!

    By the way, my wife got me your book for Father’s Day. I really enjoyed it. Keep up the good work, and Happy Thanksgiving!

  38. Duane De Vries

    After years of using a bench vise to crack black walnuts, due to arthritis I bought one of the lever things. It works great for me. I read where. It takes on average, about 600 pounds of pressure to crack the nut. The lever device sort of shatters the nut but usually the meat comes out in four good size pieces. For me it was worth the money.

  39. Joe

    I began cracking my walnuts this year and used a hammer against the towel-covered walnut on a cement floor. I ordered the “Hunt’s Black Walnut Nut Cracker” from H&C Nut Cracker Company, P.O. Box 36711, Des Moines, IA 50315 and have been much relieved to be able to crack the walnuts at the kitchen table without flying shells or accidentally hammering my fingers. Thanks for the information–especially about letting the meat dry before storing it.

  40. Julian

    It’s that time again! We found a loaded tree in an abandoned mill site near Healdsburg last weekend. As you mention, the dried-out black ones are already ready to crack open, so we thought about just setting the green ones out in the sun to finish drying instead of hulling the flesh. Should we be worried about rot or taste? Looking forward to your recipe!

  41. Gloria payne

    Do black walnuts go bad if theyre hulled but not cracked for a long time?

  42. Carrie Gaston

    Hi, I picked some black walnuts hoping to pickle them, but they appear to have already started developing the inner shell (a light brown color). Can I use them for something else now? Will they ripen up? Any suggestions? Thanks!

  43. Steve

    Hi Hank,
    Great blog. I thought I would share my recent experience with Black Walnuts. I have a pizza oven in my backyard. I use it at night and the following morning the temperature inside is around 200 degrees F. It will hold that temp for 6-8 hours. I recently put several gallons of black walnuts in the oven and sealed it for 10 hours. At the end of that time the walnuts were black and somewhat dehydrated. However, the meat inside was still raw. This softened the husks and killed any worms that were inside. After that, I left them to dry a few more days and then began to remove the husk with a knife. They were not at all slippery, as can sometimes be the case. Once that was done, I cut the walnuts in half using a band saw. The cut ran between the stem end and the blossom end. Cutting them in this way allowed me to easily remove the meat. It is a nightmare to remove the meat if you cut through the stem and blossom end. Anyway, I thought I would pass these tips along as it made my job very easy compared to some of the stories I have read.

  44. melissashawsmith

    Hank, Thanks for the fun and informative read. I’m embarrassed to say, I’ve intended to harvest our huge black walnut tree for 15 years. Usually I get around to setting the nuts out to dry, and yes, the squirrels have a field day. This year I’m determined to get to the meat of the matter. I already have the black hand of death to prove it (the juice soaked right through my glove). Recently did a post on my love/hate relationship with our black walnut tree.
    Glad to have found your blog!

  45. Marcus Robinson

    Thank you for all of the help I just got some blacks today I hope from the advice I had gotten on shelling the nut shells I will try some of the techniques on the nuts I have gotten today. I have to start can’t wait

  46. Julie

    So my dad keeps saying to wait until the black walnuts green flesh is completely rotted off and the nut is all that remains. I tried to get the goey black part off of some of them today and there were maggots. But they keep saying that if I don’t wait the nut will not come off on the inside once you break into them. I’m confused, because it doesn’t sound right to let the green or black flesh completely rot off. I would also like to attempt to make dye and jam. So I did peel some green ones and am playing boiling that water with the peeling. My question is do i let the walnuts green or black flesh completely rot off or do I go ahead and take the blacks or greens off?

  47. erica

    I like the juxtaposition of “goose shit on a doorknob” with the cuter-than-cute kitty cat. Nice write up, Mr. Meat Guy.

  48. mike klaus

    All the above brings back fond memories of my Illinois childhood with Dad, hulling and shelling black walnuts. Now in Wisconsin, our little farm must have 50 trees and this year is a bumper crop. I could take hundreds of pounds and the squirrels wouldn’t notice.

    We bought a trommel, a sort of rotary sieve, a couple years ago for sifting larger chunks out of compost. Its original use was as a field corn cleaner. It is basically a 40″ diameter drum about six feet long, covered in 1/2″ hardware cloth. A 1/4 HP motor drives it at maybe 30 rpm. It’s normally inclined a few degrees so the finer compost falls through for collection, while the undigested pieces of whatever make it to the lower end and fall out.

    I blocked it up so it’s almost flat and put a temporary shield on the end. Then I dump a few dozen walnuts onto an unused sidewalk, walk on them wearing OUTDOOR ONLY boots until the hulls are loosened, then shovel the whole mess into the open end of the trommel. When there are several hundred nuts loaded, I let it run for about half an hour. It gets gradually louder as the hulls break up and fall through the screen. I stood back and shot a good stream from the garden hose into the rotating drum, ran it a bit more, then lowered the bottom end before removing the end shield, and watched the clean nuts fall into a bin.

    I’ve run only two batches so far, but it seems to work pretty well. There are a lot more waiting to be done. And way more than I’ll ever get around to shelling.

  49. Kim

    Thanks Hank. Just what’s needed – the walnuts are falling.

  50. Tim

    I understand that the Native Americans used Black Walnut products for a lot of things including as a dye and insect repellent and I do know of one by-product use that could come in handy. If you’ll crush the hulls in some sort of bucket, add water and pour it over some ground that will potentially hold earthworms, the chemicals in the hulls will make ALL of the worms in that area come to the surface immediately for easy gathering to put on a hook! Have a container of clean water handy also to give the worms a rinse since the walnut juice obviously has an effect on them.
    Happy gathering…and fishing together in this case!

  51. Mark Tade

    I always wash the hulled nuts several times in a 5-gallon bucket (the wash water is slightly toxic to other plants so pour it somewhere other than your garden–I pour it on my gravel driveway). Then I hang the nuts in mesh bags for several weeks, up to 6 months to dry and cure. I crack them in a bench vise, which works better than a hammer and saves you a blue thumb. My dad used to say something was bluer than a cross-eyed carpenter’s thumb. Only hickory nuts are hard to crack and pick, but they are as delicious in their own right as black walnuts.

  52. Joyce

    Great story, reminding me of my childhood in Lake Odessa, Michigan. We had 4 black walnut trees in our yard. Each year for Christmas we 5 kids would give our aunt (a professor who lived in Manhattan and was famous for her black walnut chocolate brownies) and grandmother a jar of black walnuts for Christmas. We accomplished this by our teenage-brother driving the car over them (we just had a dirt driveway) to get the hulls off. Then around the kitchen table he would hammer them open on a brick sitting on the kitchen table. We 3 sisters would take the nutmeats out using nutpicks. So much fun — and so appreciated by our aunt and grandmother!

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  54. John Moore

    Great article. This is information you just can’t find. Sadly, people in Indianapolis just throw them away.

    I harvest them –

  55. jaylyn

    My grandfather’s favorite cookie was a black walnut icebox cookie. I hadn’t made them for years, since they’re not to everyone’s taste, but now that we have our own black walnut tree in the Berkshires, we’ve been harvesting — mostly wresting them away from the rival teams of red squirrels, who secrete them on opposite sides of the orchard and then relocate them to their nests — and making the cookies for Christmas. [The squirrels have managed over the years to fill the sills of the house and barn with black walnut shells. How they get their tiny little teeth through the hardest shells in the world is anybody’s guess.] Recipe attached.
    Ice Box Nut Cookies
    (Black Walnut)

    2 eggs
    2 c brown sugar
    1 c shortening (my mother used margarine; I use Earth Balance + butter)

    Beat together and add:

    3 to 3-1/2 c flour
    1 t baking soda
    pinch of salt
    1 c nut meats, broken

    Stir up at night, pack in shallow pan ungreased. Place in cold place. In the a.m. turn on floured board, slice thin, and bake.*

    *375 for 10-12 min or till nicely browned and smelling like the earth and heaven combined

  56. Marilynn

    Not sure if anyone is still around to answer since this is from 2010 but I harvested my first black walnuts, I picked them up from the ground as out trees are WAY too tall to pick them from. Some of the outer shells were black, some were speckled with black/brown, I took off the outer husk, washed them and let them air dry (as instructed in a video on youtube) …its been several weeks now and I decided to crack one open to have a taste…they taste like english walnuts but with a more earthy taste. Did I do something wrong? should I toast them before eating/using? or could my nuts just be bad?

  57. Pete

    The taste is unique. Not sure if ‘earthy’ is good or bad…I personally love the flavor. It has been said that if you hull the nuts while they are still green, before the inside gets brown and squishy, that the flavor will be milder, and I believe this to be true from my own experience.
    The very best, easily available way to crack them is with a ‘Vice Grips’, it is very controlled and can be easily adjusted with the screw adjustment from nut to nut.

  58. Dorothy Schenck

    I’ve found a good way to get the hulls off is to pound the nuts thro a knot hole or hole drilled in a board.

  59. mary ford

    Does anyone want to sell any of your black walnuts? If so, have been dying to get some, just let me know.

  60. Cpt Jera

    Great article! Thanks!
    Wife (Ms Carmen) and I spent our first night at home on our ‘new’ old farm here in northeast Tennessee. We’ve named it “Eden’s Garden”, after the Eden family who established it in 1908.
    Black walnut trees everywhere and they are COVERED!!
    Looking forward to our harvest!

  61. Nick

    Have a question that someone may be able to answer. I’m a novice when it comes to black walnuts. I hulled and set 20 some to dry and a week later got about 15 more and hulled them. I wanted to see the meat of the walnut so I cracked one that I had just hulled and it looked great, jelly like and needed drying, but looked great. My curiosity got the best of me and I cracked one that I had on the drying rack from a week ago. The nut meat was very very thin, almost like it was nothing, is that normal or just a bad walnut?? Any help would be appreciated.


  62. Carolyn Allen

    Thanks for all the info. We have several wild black walnut trees in So California and will now try to harvest some using your experience and tips. It sure sounds like a lot of work, though 😉

  63. Lisa Simmons

    Yummmmm I LOVE black walnuts!!! I also remember them from childhood, my grandparents farm, the burlap sack full of nuts and my dad spending Sunday afternoons watching football and picking out the meat!!! my favorite black walnut recipe is using them in my famous Kraft Marshmallow Fantasy fudge recipe!! And it only tastes right with black walnuts!! I scoff at those nasty English types!!!!

  64. A Smith

    We recently purchased several acres and have our own walnut trees, along with a shallow creek. I took the walnuts in the hull to the creek and rolled them around under my boot. The hull and gush of walnut stain simply flowed away, and as I rolled the nut around on the rock bed of the creek, I came up with a clean and hulled nut, and no mess! I could did around 5 or 6 a minute that way. I’ll wait until they cure a bit before cracking one. This is my first ever attempt so I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

  65. Chris Mathis

    Great soliloquy on the wonder that is the black walnut. Having just harvested about 10 bushels, I am sharing some of my own “lessons”

    1. Wear those plastic rubber or latex gloves under the gloves you are going to de-husk with. Stains seep through leather too.

    2. Blacktop and tractor tires. Spread your green, beige and black husks on some out-of-the-way blacktop or hard road surface. DON”t drive the car or truck over them. Instead, use the tractor. The tires are softer and don’t crack so many nuts, and the large tread contours are much better at removing the husks that a knife or other implements. (There is an added benefit of making the road look like it was just re-tarred…)

    3. You CAN wash out your wet-stained fabric or leather gloves. Immediately get them soaking in a bucket with dish detergent and water. SOAKING. Overnight. The gloves actually WILL come clean.

    4. Drying the de-husked nuts. Critical. The longer the better. But every furry nut forager wants what you have. My neighbor fills her live animal trap with the nuts and seals the door shut! Good air flow, can sit in the sun safely and the squirrels can’t get to them! (She’s learned a lot in her 80+ years. I thought this was an inspired use of the wire cage.)

    5. YES THERE ARE GOOD NUT CRACKERS! I will send pictures of TWO that I now swear by (not swear at). Black walnuts take a unique management of force and these machines (one very old and one new) both work well (and keep you from crushing fingers with that D*$% hammer!)

    Black walnut cake, pound cake, pie… oh my…

  66. lili

    I dont know why some people here think that water after you wash the walnut is toxic? We dye cloth and other stuff with that water. Let it boil and then you can dye things with that, so how come is toxic? It is not toxic.

  67. Gene

    I recently became re-interested in black walnuts. I live in the Great Plains, and the black walnut is apparently the only native nut tree in my state. When I lived a few hundred miles south of here as a child, I and my siblings gathered black walnuts from beneath my grandfather’s tree, walked 20 feet to his old blacksmith bench, and cracked the beasties with an ancient vise. As an alternative I tried the old anvil and a hammer he had used, but found the vise much easier to control without damaging the nut meats.
    Some years ago my mother bought a house in a small town in the eastern part of the state, and a few years before her death I moved out to her place to help her avoid having to live in a nursing home. There were two old black walnut trees in her yard, both probably approaching 100 years of age. The trees produced nuts pretty much every year, but I found them difficult to enjoy in any quantity due to the many well-documented characteristics of the species.
    When Mom died, I moved back into a larger town, where I live now. I was goofing around one day and typed “black walnut cracker” into a search engine and found that there are several pretty good ones avaliable. I researched them pretty well and decided on the Hunt nut cracker from Des Moines, Iowa. I ordered one and it is an amazing thing. It really does crack them nicely. This fall I picked up some black walnuts, hulled them out on the driveway by roughing them with my shoes, and after a few weeks, started cracking them.
    Of the approximately 5 gallons of nuts (after hulling), I have cracked and eaten all but about a dozen nuts. I’ve ordered more nuts from several sources, and expect to receive some between now and Christmas.
    If you need a good black walnut cracker, Hunt makes a jim-dandy one. Heavy cast iron, with steel dies. Pull the lever down until it cracks just the amount you want. Can’t go wrong. I was discussing with the manufacturer about getting another one or two for other family members. He said that he can’t make any more until after February because the foundry that makes the cast iron parts are backlogged on production. But I’m thinking I’m placing an order for one or two more so they will be avaliable next fall.
    The link that accompanies this response should take you to the H & C Nut Cracker Co. web site.
    Check it out. It’s really a great machine.

  68. Jan

    I have three concrete blocks stacked up for dad to crack the black walnuts on in the garage. He uses a sturdy long old hat pin to dig out the nuts. He has a clean metal bird nest to shake out any dust or small pieces of hull. We are loving our countertop ice cream maker to make different varieties of black walnut ice cream. Lemon zest, with chocolate chip bits, and the black walnuts was fun and tasted great too. I’m anxious to try it with orange zest,a bit of maple, and the black nuts. We went online to check for nut buyers in the area in the fall. A local feed store has a nut huller out back, to take the hulls off before weighing the nuts to be sold. I give him some nuts, and he is willing to husk the nuts for our personal use. It works for us. Just be careful about where you dry your nuts out at, as the squirrels have a hey day for any unsecured walnuts, and they will eat through a sack quickly. I cover the nuts with a rack to prevent the squirrels being able to run off with their loot. I set them high on a trailer during the day in the sunlight to dry.

  69. Kay

    We had two black walnut trees in our side yard. They must be very long lived as the house there was built in 1855. Of course, I don’t know when they were planted but I still live near the old house and one of them is still standing. This was when I was a kid 68 years ago. I believe that a tornado did the other one in.

    Dad said to only pick up the ones with black hulls and let then sit for a while, then we’d get a 5lb. sledge hammer and crack ’em open on the driveway or the concrete garage floor. Took forever to pick out the meat.

    I have a wonderful recipe for butterscotch refrigerator cookies using black walnuts.

  70. Jackie

    I have a huge black walnut tree in my back yard that produces lots of nuts every year. We never get a chance to harvest any nuts because every squirrel for 2 miles comes to our tree to eat them before they ever get to the ground. It is mid-Aug and already 1 or 2 is missing from the group of 3. They only eat 1/2 of the pre mature nut and then toss it to the grouned. Some just have teeth marks, and are tossed, are these any good? My question is for anybody that might have a good way to keep the squirrels out of the tree. So that I might be able to have some of the nuts this year.

  71. Weekend Reading | Lovely Greens

    […] to be Self-Sufficient without having a Farm 6. Money may not grow on trees but walnuts do! Foraging for Black Walnuts in the USA And once you’ve collected your walnuts why not use the shells to naturally dye your […]

  72. Bill

    I just finished cracking and picking out the nuts. They are somewhat softer than I remember buying at the store. Should they be dried out now or should I have left them in the hull longer to dry more?

  73. Elaine

    in my experience, you need to let them age a while before you eat them.

  74. Marge Mills

    I’ve just enjoyed an hour of fun reading. We have a gazillion black walnut trees – free for the pick-up, and dyers in Ann Arbor do use them for dyeing yarn. I am a certified fiber artist and have taught spinning and natural dyeing for years. We still harvest about 20 gallons of nuts for personal use, eating and dyeing. I’m 80 years old and still love the challenge of getting enough nutmeats for baking and eating. The H&C cracker is the best one and we have used ours for over 10 years, and find the corn sheller exhausting, but it does work. We just run over them in our gravel driveway, soak the nuts and store until cured. I loved the live trap idea! Those buggers will find the nuts in the barn, so now we store them inside, as soon as they are dry.

  75. kris

    Do you let them age awhile after you crack them open? Also, how do you store them during that aging time? Thanks for any help… Our trees are loaded this year!

  76. Lynn

    I husk my walnuts this way. They will be absolutely clean! Make or find a wire container with about a 1 inch mesh. Don’t put too many walnuts in, then fire up the power washer and have at them. CLEAN! I let them dry over the winter, then crack them whenever you want some.

  77. Jose Cisneros

    I would like to add that of late I’ve discovered a couple of tools that make removing the nut meat from the shells a bit easier.
    Once I crack them with a hammer I go at the shell fragments with a pair of welders heavy duty wire cutters and a dental pick. (Safety glasses recommended.) I now end up with more and larger pieces than before. And the work goes faster.
    So much so that last year I made a large batch of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with black walnuts and passed them about to family and friends rather than eat them all myself.

  78. Theresa

    I hull with a conduit clamp and rubber mallet. Goes fast and easy. Then I hang the nuts in onion sacks – cool cellar. I am just cracking nuts from last years harvest.

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