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How To Harvest English Walnuts



English Walnuts

Photo © Erin Huffstetler

English walnuts are typically harvested late August through September, and make a great addition to the frugal pantry (It's hard to argue with free food). So, grab some buckets and unleash your inner squirrel on a tree near you.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Depends on the size of the harvest

Here's How:

  1. Check for ripeness.
    Wait until nuts with split hulls begin to appear on the ground in number. Then, break open a few sample nuts to check for ripeness. English walnuts are ready for harvest when the tissue between the kernel and the shell turns brown.


  2. Gather the walnuts.
    Once ready, you can harvest the nuts one of two ways: either gather them off of the ground as they fall, or shake the tree to dislodge them.


  3. Remove the hulls.
    Pull the hulls off to reveal the shelled nuts. (The hulls should come off easily, if you're collecting the nuts at the right time.)

    Note: You may want to wear gloves to keep your hands clean.


  4. Rinse.
    Rinse the shells off with a high-powered hose to remove the tannins.


  5. Inspect the quality.
    Inspect the walnuts for cracked shells, and discard any that show signs of damage.


  6. Dry the nuts.
    Allow the nuts to air dry for two weeks.


  7. Test for dryness.
    Remove several nuts from the shell, and try to break them in half. If they break cleanly, the nuts are dry and ready for use.


  1. For maximum freshness, always store walnuts in an air-tight container.
  2. English walnuts will keep in the shell for several months. Store in a cool, dry place for best results.
  3. Shelled nuts can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 6 months and in the freezer for well over a year.

What You Need:

  • Gloves
  • Buckets
  • A garden hose
  • A nut cracker (for shelling nuts)
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