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Harvesting & Drying Walnuts

I may be the only one that LOVES this walnut tree. It’s technically our neighbor’s tree but since it’s just over the fence, I get to claim the half that hangs over my yard. The reason everyone dislikes the tree is because of the mess.

I just can’t get over how beautiful the tree is and really don’t care about the mess.

Because we get so many nuts, I’m ashamed to admit we haven’t harvested any until this year – but it’s better late than never.  So, instead of simply tossing the nuts in our yard waste bin, like we normally do, we collected a big pile of nuts and stomped on them to loosen the nut from the husk.  Then, we went to work removing the nuts from the husk and set the nuts in a bin for washing.

Once the nuts were rinsed and remaining chunks of husk removed, I placed the nuts on a wire rack to dry. Again, since we’ve never done this before, we have no idea how long they’ll need to dry.  We assume they’ll be ready in time for Christmas.

On a side note, if you ever plan to harvest your own walnuts, be sure to wear gloves. I don’t like to wear gloves and now my hands and nails are stained a dirty yellow/brown color.

Apparently, the husks are also used as a permanent dye for reed used to make baskets, like the ones my friend Kari Lonning makes.  I just hope the dye washes off my hands soon, since it was a little embarrassing having dirty “looking” hands at work today.

Below are a couple pictures to help you visualize the process.  Enjoy.

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13 Comments Post a comment
  1. I have a few walnut trees in my garden. The squirrels love to sit on my concrete table and eat them, this leaves all the shells to stain my table. I now have a swirly mix of grey and brown on top. Hopefully it will fade!

    November 3, 2009
  2. Walnuts! It’s a treasure! I love them for their taste and for what they do to our health. I remember we used green nuts as a lipstick when we were little.

    November 3, 2009
    • Did they turn your lips brown? I still can’t get rid of the stain off my hands & nails. It’s crazy.

      November 4, 2009
      • Dave Moore #

        Is there a special way to dry them without them going mouldy, Many thanks, Regards Dave M.

        October 26, 2013
  3. A walnut tree. What a gift. I know it can be lots of work, but look at the harvest. Hope you all enjoy it.

    November 3, 2009
  4. OK major newb here. Are the nuts/shells inside those green things? Is that what you were stomping on to loosen up? I feel like I have been missing something entirely. How many times have I seen this and just passed them by without knowing?

    November 4, 2009
    • I know! Until I had a walnut tree, I had no idea the nuts were encased in a green fruit/husk. It’s crazy. Now, you’ll be able to spot them a mile away.

      November 4, 2009
  5. I think it is just too funny that we both have the same mission (maybe not farming so much for me aside from that goal to keep chickens), a hatred for chain link fences and a neighboring walnut tree! Bizzaro! I should try drying some of those walnuts (my Dad did warn me about the “dye” – his hands are normal now – there is hope). By the way, you have been hammered with the Honest Scrap Award. See my blog post “Egads! …” for details. Please note that you are not obligated to participate and if you hate this sort of thing, I am truly sorry, but I do enjoy your blog.

    November 4, 2009
    • What! Your neighbor has a walnut tree too? That’s just crazy. You should try harvesting yours — I can’t wait to eat them once they’ve dried & they’re free. Besides the stained hands, my only complaint is that they take up WAY TOO MUCH ROOM in the house.

      The Honest Scrap Award sounds fun, I’ll have to figure out my 10 things and get something up in the next couple days. I’m honored you’d think of me.

      November 4, 2009
  6. QPB #

    We have four black walnut trees across our property and I, too, had stained hands for about two weeks. It takes a very, very long time to wear off. I am curing the nuts and will be hanging them soon. One thing I discovered this year with a new garden in the same area as the trees–you cannot plant tomatoes, eggplants or peppers under the trees’ dripline–a chemical released by the trees will cause a wilt and eventually kill the tomatoes and other veggies mentioned. So plant away from the trees if you have a garden!

    November 18, 2009
  7. Dave Moore #

    I have just harvested a large amount of the biggest walnuts I have ever seen from a remote tree on the edge of a field, this year is truly a bumper crop but how do I dry 40 lb of walnuts in order to keep them for xmas. We have a wood burner so I can place them on newspaper in front of that for a good few evenings or I can put some in trays when the oven cools from cooking but is there a proper method as last years crop went mouldy inside the shells. Any tips would be most welcome.

    October 26, 2013
    • robert #

      You gotta take the shell off, wash it THEN store it.

      September 28, 2014
  8. suzi #

    Is it possible to crack open the hull and dry the actual nut meat in the oven? and if so how long and what temp? I am wanting to use some ASAP along with my persimmons. :)

    October 1, 2014

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