How do I dry and preserve black walnuts?

Gardens & Landscapes September 27, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

The walnuts have to be mature before you can dry them. Cut one and if the kernels look full inside, then you can try drying them. If mature, remove the green hull and then place the walnuts in a mesh sack and air dry them for two weeks in a cool, dry place. One tip for removing the green hull is to place the walnuts on the driveway and run over them repeatedly with your car. After husks have been removed, the nuts must be cured. Curing prepares the walnuts for storage and allows the walnut flavor to develop. To cure black walnuts, stack the clean hulled nuts in shallow layers only two or three nuts deep. The nuts must be cured, place the nuts in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight for two weeks. To be certain nuts have cured adequately, break open a sample nut. When the nut is dry enough to store, its kernel will break crisply, with a sharp snap. If cured improperly, nuts will mold. Storage When you're ready to shell the nuts, moisten them to keep the kernels from shattering. Soak the walnuts in hot tap water for about 24 hours. Drain and replace the hot water and soak the nuts for two more hours. Cover the nuts with moist cloths until you're ready to crack the shells. After shelling, nut meats can be stored in several ways: at room temperature, refrigerated or frozen. If you plan to store the nutmeats in a container at room temperature and use them within a few weeks, first bake them at 215° for 10 to 15 minutes. Nutmeats can be refrigerated in a jar or plastic bag for up to nine months without baking. Nutmeats can also be frozen for longer term storage, but use them within two years. For more information, refer to: HARVESTING BLACK WALNUTS.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.