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making the best of black walnuts?

 
Will Holland
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Location: CT zone 5b
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I've got a couple or black walnuts and frequently don't do anything with the nuts. They're a pain to process and the last time we had a good crop of them, we must have prcessed em wrong cuz they tasted awful. Has anyone had success actuslly utilizing black walnuts?
 
Blake Wheeler
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Location: Kentucky 6b
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most importantly, how did you process them?

Besides eating the nuts, dye can be made from the husks (if that's your thing), the husks can also be composted. Composting destroys the juglone (general consensus).

Taste, well, I've had some taste great, then some years couldn't find a one, off the same tree, worth a darn. No rhyme or reason why either. It's getting that time of year the walnut on my property line is starting to drop nuts.
 
John Polk
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Will Holland wrote:I've got a couple or black walnuts and frequently don't do anything with the nuts. They're a pain to process and the last time we had a good crop of them, we must have prcessed em wrong cuz they tasted awful. Has anyone had success actuslly utilizing black walnuts?

Take an early sample. It will be quickly apparent if they merit the time/labor to process.

If they aren't worth the time, give the whole batch to the pigs/chickens.
(Livestock hasn't been educated to minimum wage laws...yet.)
 
Will Holland
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I'm guessing I'd still have to shell them for chickens, which is a big part of the inconvenience.

For processing, I think we stomped the hulls off, then tried to let them dry in the Shell. I suspect the nuts went rancid before we ate them.
 
Sean Henry
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Location: Louisville, KY Zone 7
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I'm hoping to collect a large amount of walnuts this weekend from my farm and will be processing them the following week.

One method I have heard of to remove the hulls is to use a paint mixer on the end of a drill. Place walnuts in a bucket about 1/4 to 1/3 full and cover with water, mix with paint mixer. The hulls should float up pour off hulls and excess water then dry the walnuts.

I think this year I will crack by hand with a bench vice but I would love to have an assisted way of doing it like in this video.



If any one has suggestions for cracking the nuts in a large volume of quickly let me know.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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For cracking walnuts for bird food I typically crack them between a 3# hammer and a piece of rock or old cement.
 
Blake Wheeler
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Location: Kentucky 6b
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The best way I've found to remove husk was throw them on a gravel drive, if you have one, and drive a car over them. I always let the husks get a little black before i did. If you notice worms in the husk they're okay, they never make it through the shell, from what I've seen. Vises work better for cracking the nuts as well, less chance of rogue shards of shell flying all over the place like they can if using a hammer.

It's been awhile since I've collected mass quantities, but I remember as a kid every couple years we'd fill up 2-3 55 gallon drums with husked nuts...a fair amount to say the least.
 
Akiva Silver
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Black walnuts are an amazing tasting walnut. They are easy to mess up though. You have to promptly remove the husks while the husks are still green. Then the nuts need to be thoroughly dried and cured before cracking. I gather large amounts of them every year. They are excellent by themselves or in baked goods. If you don't think they are good, then you can easily sell the kernels. There are candy manufacturers that will buy them, co-ops, and individuals. I've never met anyone who didn't love my wife's black walnut banana bread.
 
Will Holland
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What's a good way to dry them?
 
Akiva Silver
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I either stack screens on my porch or hang them in onion bags. The drying happens after they are promptly dehulled.
One of my goals for the winter is to write a detailed article on processing and eating butternuts and black walnuts.
 
Will Holland
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Akiva Silver wrote:I either stack screens on my porch or hang them in onion bags. The drying happens after they are promptly dehulled.
One of my goals for the winter is to write a detailed article on processing and eating butternuts and black walnuts.


Cool. I love your articles!
 
Terry Paul Calhoun
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Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
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I'm full on, processing black walnuts for the first time this year, although only nuts from the trees that produce the largest nuts, although I am sampling them all (I have more than 100 producers) to find out what kind of nut is inside of each. Here's the process I worked out for this year after some observations last year - before I retired

We grab them a couple of times a day using one of those roller devices. Then one smack with a hammer usually splits the still-green hull, which we then brush off with gloved hands into a small trailer, to be dumped near hugelkultur locations and exposed to the elements until ready for use the following year. The shell gets dropped into a bucket of water at once - to slow oxidation and to deter theft by squirrels

Every couple of days we use plastic netting and hang batches of shells from a tree branch and use a power washer to further clean them. First in a batch hanging, then, perhaps 10–15 seconds by gloved hand for each nut, to get them really clean. Then off to dry inside the house, where the squirrels aren't.

We have in mind a local consumer in-shell market once this production process is proven. We are even having individual buckets for individual trees, because we think there may be a market for branding the products as from a specific tree, perhaps even a named tree. One of my trees produces green fruit larger than tennis balls, with nuts two inches across.

This process produces gorgeous nuts with all their ruggedness and sharpness intact. I am experimenting with spraying them lightly with oil to further bring out the gorgeous colors in the shells.
 
Terry Paul Calhoun
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Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Terry Paul Calhoun wrote:I'm full on, processing black walnuts for the first time this year, ...
As a test, I focused this afternoon on a tree I call Eleanor, which has a high kernel-to-shell ratio, collecting 640 mostly green-hulled nuts under that one tree (partly, it wasn't mowed, so I could not get all of them). My estimate is there were probably 1,000 on the ground and still green, and it had been dropping plenty for several weeks before. This was its last gasp of the season, they were dropping all around me.

Here are the results of four hours of work:
  • Collected 640 nuts;
  • 31 either cracked as I was hulling them with hand and hammer (9, 6 with kernels and 3 without) or floated in the water bucket (22, 4 with kernels and 18 empty);
  • After hulling I pressure washed them and they are gorgeous, final total 609 drying nuts;
  • At the moment the bundle of them weighs precisely 25 pounds.
  •  
    Ray Moses
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    Location: Brighton, Michigan
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    Like Akiva suggested you do need to cure them. A cement mixer with rocks and water will D Hall the nuts pretty fast or if you go to the Michigan not growers YouTube channel they have a D holler that is made out of a hot water tank a lot of people here in Michigan have those the Hullers. It is not recommended to drive over them as driving over them or crack a certain percentage of the shelves and cause the knots to go rancid during storage you also need to submerge all the knotsand water and do a float test any nuts that float are bad not meats and throw them out sorry about the misspellings but I am doing this with voice recognition on my iPhone
     
    Ray Moses
    Posts: 74
    Location: Brighton, Michigan
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    I have a drill cracker and a hunts black walnut cracker the hunts black walnut cracker does a lot better job then the drill cracker. Drill cracker cracks a lot faster but it does chew up a lot of nut meats subsequent cycling
     
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