Harvesting Black Walnuts

dreamer_PA(z6 PA)October 21, 2002

I have a TON of black walnuts, but I am not sure what to do with them. How do I get the green cover off? Should I wait until it darkens? I imagine it is pretty messy. I guess I should be clear that I want them for eating, not for dying.

Last year I had a bumper crop of hickory nuts. They are much easier to figure out. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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composts(Z6 SW-Ohio)

I put mine on my compost sifter, and in orange bags. I let then hang to dry. Once dry the black skins come off more easy. Then I crack and enjoy (about December.)

    Bookmark   October 21, 2002 at 1:44PM
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Dicken(z6 s/wMI)

there are people about, hither and yon, who purchase black walnuts -- in bulk. you simply have to get the nuts to them.

these people husk the nuts & buy them by weight. you won't make big bucks from your trees, but face it: they're the ones who paid the money for all the machines and machinery to do the processing.

there're a couple of places here in sw michigan, so i know they're out there; just check your yellow pages, if it interests you.

-dicken.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2002 at 9:07PM
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hollymolecule(sunset z18)

If you are interested, the skins make a wonderful dark brown to black dye for cotton and wool.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2002 at 11:38AM
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dreamer_PA(z6 PA)

Thanks for the suggestions. I have a compost sifter that's not doing anything for the season so I will put it to work. I also like the idea of someone buying them. I pick them up anyway as the trees are where I ride my horses. Even if I can get a few bucks for next year's garden seeds, it would be worth it. Since I think dying yarn may be a little ambitious for me, do you think I could compost the hulls? Or would they take too long to break down?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2002 at 1:41PM
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anniew(4-5/PA)

If you collect the walnuts, and put them in your driveway, the riding back and forth will take off the green husk, and then you can just pick up the nuts.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2002 at 2:14PM
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lelia(Northern Cal)

Dreamer, I know that the roots of the black walnut give off a substance that is toxic to many plants. I have no idea if the hulls contain this substance, but it might behoove you to check it out before putting them into your compost.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2002 at 9:10PM
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composts(Z6 SW-Ohio)

I will not begine to try to spell J______. the substance in black wallnuts that inhibit plant growth. However, in a well mixed compost the amount is too small to start with and after composting the compound breaks down anyway.

This topic has been discussed to death on the soil and compost page. If you want to reasearch more...

    Bookmark   October 23, 2002 at 3:10PM
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lucky_p

I'm kind of late weighing in on this one, but maybe it'll be helpful for you in years to come.

The first nuts dropped by the BW trees are often "blanks" - unfilled or poorly filled nuts, but when the main crop begins dropping, they're usually quite well-filled.
You really need to remove the husk material before it gets black and mushy, as it can penetrate the nutshell and cause discoloration of the nutmeat as well as conferring a somewhat bitter flavor to the kernel.
I dump freshly collected nuts in my gravel driveway and drive over them for a few days to loosen the husks - you can then manually remove remaining husk material - but wear gloves if you don't want your hands/fingers stained. Or, you can roll the nuts under your booted foot on a hard surface to remove the husks, run them through an old hand-cranked corn-sheller, or pound them through an appropriately-sized hole in a sturdy board.
Once you've removed the bulk of the husk material, place your nuts in a bucket of water and stir briskly with a stick, changing the water until it no longer comes off looking like strong black coffee. At this time, you can also 'float' test your nuts - most incompletely-filled nuts will float, and should be discarded, while well-filled nuts will sink. Crack a few floaters, though, to make sure they're no good - some really thin-shelled selections tend to float, and you don't want to throw away your best nuts!
Once your nuts are clean, spread them in a cool, dry place to 'cure' for at least a couple of weeks - straight off the tree, they're not tasty.
There are a number of good walnut crackers on the market, but I just use a simple bench-mounted vise(though I'm planning to buy a "Mr. Hick'ry" Nutcracker this year). If you'll soak your nuts in warm water for an hour or so prior to beginning a cracking session, you'll find that the shell will tend to buckle and split rather than 'exploding' once you reach 'critical pressure' - you'll get more intact quarters and fewer tiny pieces, as well as fewer 'extra-crunchy surprises"(chunks of shell). A pair of diagonal wire-cutting pliers and a nut pick are handy for snipping shell here and there to release quarters and larger pieces.

Happy cracking

Here is a link that might be useful: Northern Nut Growers Association

    Bookmark   December 10, 2002 at 9:37AM
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bulldinkie(pa)

After we bought our farm I sat up one night picking walnut meat only to get up in morning to find they were moldy. all that work it was like trying to get blood from a turnip.I ruined my chop block.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2003 at 8:00AM
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lynnb_tomballtx

Growing up, we had black walnut, english walnut, and pecan trees in our yard. We just used the shed rooftop of the shop to dry the husks. Think I remember Daddy having some old window screens up there to keep them from rolling off. The squirrels never wanted them, so leaving them out was no problem. The shop had a composition shingle roof, which probably helped reflect heat to make them dry faster. Wet soggy nuts will have moldy meats. You could then put them in onion sacks and roll them around to break off the dry husks. Mama used a small sledge on the concrete porch to break them open. Every fall, we'd sit in front of the tv with a bowl of cracked black walnuts or pecans and pick meats with the nut picks. We weren't after pretty nuts, just good ones for Christmas cookies and cakes.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2003 at 1:08PM
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jeremy101(z5 Ind.)

Well I'm about 2 or 3 years late, but hopefully this might help someone. I say go with what Lucky P says above. I also did a google search for tips on what to do. This year I picked up a 5 gallon bucket full. When the hulls are yellowing they're already soft and I just stepped on the to break them loose then pulled 'em off with my hands. YES wear gloves.

Then I washed them and spread them over a huge piece of cardboard in the garage to sit for two weeks. I still haven't shelled them but I read the very same thing about soaking them for easier cracking. I opened one just to check and it tasted good.

Based on my experience I would agree that removing the husk before it browns and dries w results in a good taste. (Be careful if you run over the nuts with a car, they could shoot out from under the tire.) Also they do taste good after "curing" for a couple of weeks. (Although I didn't taste any right after I hulled them.) The other instructions I got from the net talked about roasting and/or freezing the nut meats depending on your needs.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2005 at 4:16PM
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chiefgraybear(East Tennessee)

Hi,
Just as a side note to a byproduct of the walnuts themselves, those hulls were, in the days before india ink, dried and growned into a fine brown powder. Then water was added as needed to make ink. Many people that lived out in the country or did not have money to spend on india ink, used the walnut hulls for that purpose. Many re-enactors of the civil war and mountainman-fur trade eras use walnut ink for authenticity purposes. I've experimented with it myself and found it to be very effective as both an ink and a dye for cloth, and leather.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2005 at 2:15PM
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Eggal

Do the letters that were written with the ink have a characteristic appearance, that one would know it when they saw it? Just curious.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2005 at 11:12PM
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kurt_n_sbcglobal_net

havetrouble curing my BW. They have been in my garage 2 to 3 weeks and the nut meat is still soft. what am i doing wrong. not curing right, harvesting to soon. I need help

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 9:38PM
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Pooh Bear

To get the husks off, take a short piece of plastic PVC pipe,
With an OD just a little bigger than the average walnut.
Mount the pipe vertically such as in a vice or something.
Place walnut with husk on top of the pipe and hit it with a hammer.
The nut will go thru the pipe, the husk will fall off.
Let the kids do this. They will love it.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 4:02PM
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gran2(z5 INDIANA)

You guys are working awfully hard at this. The nuts that are in the garage probably aren't going to cure for a very long time. No air, no sunshine, no heat. Dump them in the driveway and let the green parts come off - has to be a gravel driveway. Then leave them out there until they're dry and "clean. No need to wash them, just leave them alone. I'm filling the driveway right now and might not bring them in until December. I've even found a few in March of the following year and they're really good. When they're dry, you can store them in buckets in the cellar and crack them on the cellar floor with a hammer. Then like Lynn said, sit with a bowl in your lap while you watch movies this winter.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2006 at 11:09PM
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booleigh

I have lived in this country house for 5 years, I must admit, that as I am throwing the nuts out of my yard into the woods, slipping on them and ruining my lawnmower blades...I have wondered what I could do with all these black walnuts... My whole back yard consists of black walnut trees and now that I feel very good about how to harvest these nuts,thanks to you all, I am not into baking, so here is my question. I am told people would purchase these if I took the time to do it, but is it worth it and also, any idea how much I could get for these little beauties? Oh, and though I knew better, I didnt wear gloves and my hands are a mess.....lesson learned. Ã
Thanks

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 6:46PM
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soapbubbles

I am looking for a source of Black Walnuts fresh from the tree with green still on the husk. I want to make a tincture with these. there are a lot of herbalist that use these hulls.I pay a small fortune for 4 oz of tincture.
Thanks, Lisa

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 12:22PM
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nogmo(zone 5)

Have you checked any farms in your area, soapbubbles? Many of the older farms here have black walnut trees. Perhaps you could find a local supplier -- you can save on shipping as well as support the economy in your area.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 11:08PM
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lcp_kylinks_net

i have walnuts for soapbubbles, but i don't know where she is; i am in western kentucky. how can i get them to you, can you come and get them?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 3:34PM
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hbjones

WE JUST BOUGHT A HOME WITH 40 ACRES FULL OF HUGE BLACK WALNUT TREES, I MEAN FULL, ANYWAYS I READ JUST TONIGHT ON A WEBSITE CALLED HAMMONS BLACK WALNUTS THAT THERE ARE HULLING STATIONS IN 16 DIFFERENT STATES AND THEY'LL PAY YOU PER POUND. ALSO I READ THAT THE HULLING STATION OPENS ON OCT 1, BUT DOES ANYONE KNOW WHEN IT'S TOO LATE TO HARVEST THEM? WE HAVE ABOUT 200 BLACK WALNUT TREES AND ALL ARE HUGE AND PRODUCING, I'M JUST THINKING IT'S GONNA TAKE ME A LONG TIME TO PICK THEM ALL UP.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 12:11AM
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lcp_kylinks_net

hbjones,
Thanks for the info. I discovered 2 hulling stations very near me. I was surprised. Listen, those trees are worth a fortune, not just in nuts but the wood is about the most valuable wood in the US. Maybe you could get a group, church or boyscouts, to help you harvest if you give them a cut. As long as they are on the tree or still mostly green they should be good from what I have read. Don't let anyone have the lumber without a second & third estimate, from someone you trust, an expert.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 6:18PM
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schizo(6)

Soapbubbles, where are you located? I spent the day raking and 'disposing' of unwanted walnuts. Perhaps I could get some to you? I use them for dyeing wool, and baking but with just 2 trees I have way more than I can handle.

I am in northern NY.

Just e mail me!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 3:09PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

You can harvest BW's in the form of squirrel meat, the flesh takes on the flavor of what they eat, yummy.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 5:50PM
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shwony

Soapbubbles: I live in Western North Carolina and have plenty of black walnut hulls. If interested please e-mail me at shwoniervr@verizon.net

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 7:45AM
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nikki98

I used to boil the nuts and stain wood with the brew then i realized you didn't have to boil them, just let them soakin teppid water. THEN I got brave and (after straining the brew) and tired it on my gray hair/It works like that Fantsifull; It lasts thru one or two washings. note: you need a mild cream rinse tho.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 6:51PM
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