How to Harvest and Store Walnuts

What You'll Need
Gloves (plastic or rubber)
A long stick or pole for knocking down walnuts from the tree
Nut crackers
Air tight containers- glass jar, ziploc bags
Garden hose

If harvested and stored correctly, delicious walnuts can be used for up to a year. Walnuts are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient that is good for the skin and heart. English and black walnutsare similar in taste, with black walnuts having a thicker shell and a stronger taste. Both trees are fairly easy to plant and maintain. Harvest your walnuts at the right time and store them properly to keep them fresh and delicious.

Step 1 - Prepare

The shells of walnuts are surrounded by a hull that will begin to crack as it ripens. Black walnut hulls contain tannins that can stain your hands and clothes. Wearing gloves when handling walnuts before they are hulled and shelled is recommended. Walnuts are usually ready for harvest sometime between late August and early October. When you find a good number of walnuts with cracked hulls that are fallen from the ground, your tree is probably ready for harvesting. Check by removing the hull and shell; the hull should come off easily if they are ripe. 

Step 2 - Harvest Walnuts

Many of the walnuts will have fallen to the ground as they ripen. Remove the remainder by knocking gently with a long pole or stick or shaking the tree until the walnuts fall to the ground. If they don't come off by lightly tapping or shaking them, they aren't ready yet. Remove the hulls with your hands, which should come off easily when ripe. Discard any walnuts that have cracked shells. 

Step 3 - Rinse and Dry Walnuts

Tannins will still be left on the shell from the hull, so rinse off your shells with a high-powered hose. Leave your walnuts outside to dry in the sun for a couple weeks. To test if they have dried enough, open a shell. If the nut snaps cleanly and crisply when you try to break it in half, it has been dried long enough

Step 4 - Shell and Store Walnuts

Walnuts can be stored in or out of their shell. Store them in or out of their shell in a cool, dry place. Shelled nuts can be placed in the refrigerator or freezer to maintain freshness even longer. Refrigerated walnuts should keep for several months; Frozen walnuts stay fresh for up to a year. For best results, store walnuts in an airtight container. Shell walnuts using a nutcracker. Black walnuts will have a thicker shell, making it difficult to remove the nut whole. 

Enjoy the scrumptious taste of raw walnuts in salads or cooked in cookies, cakes, muffins and many other dishes!