Even though the walnut tree has proved to be somewhat of an inconvenience when it comes to the layout of toys in the backyard, I thought I should make the most of the tree, and attempt to harvest some of the nuts.
Step one of harvesting walnuts is collecting the nuts. My daughter LOVED this part. Even if you aren't going to harvest the nuts, just collecting them can be a fun activity. Most of the walnuts we found were completely enclosed with the green shell, but some were partially exposed. We weren't 100% sure if those were okay or if they were old, so we trashed most of them just to be safe, but as we get more comfortable with the process, we might start including them in our keep pile.
For the next steps, I googled and watched some YouTube videos for tips. The first couple of videos said to peel the nuts, wash them, and let them dry two weeks out in the sun. I also asked friends for tips, and they told me there is no need to wash them, just peel them and lay them in the sun for a few days, and then begin to crack them open. Another person had an even easier approach to just collect the walnuts, leave them in the green peel, and hang them to dry in a cool dry place for two months. The nice thing with the different techniques is that you can pick the one that works best for your schedule and walnut demand.
We decided to go ahead and peel the green shell off of the nuts the same day we collected them. In all of the videos, the people easily peeled off the green shell. However, when I tried to peel them, it was not very easy. And, even though I wore gloves, the walnut juice still leaked through the gloves and stained my fingers. After watching me struggle for a bit, my husband came up with an idea. To quickly peel the walnuts, he placed all of the walnuts in a bucket with some water and used a paint mixer attached to a drill and stirred the walnuts in the bucket. The peels came right off!
Once the nuts were clean, I hung them up in a cheesecloth outside in the sun. My husband poured out the peels and liquid in a spot in the yard that had a bunch of weeds growing since the walnuts have a natural herbicide in them. Friends recommended hanging them in an onion bag, but I didn't have one on hand, so we will see how the cheesecloth works.
In two weeks, we will take the nuts down and attempt to crack them... well, maybe not quite in two weeks, we will see how our schedule works out... but more to come! The biggest hurdle right now will be to remember to bring them inside if it rains and to keep the squirrels away!
What are your tips for collecting and storing walnuts?