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As Autumn approaches in our area of Northeastern Oklahoma, many of our nut trees are beginning to shed their crops, dropping nuts beneath trees, in the garden, yard, bushes, and even on an occasional unsuspecting human below the tree. Our house was unfortunately planted after the tree, and a tad too close, as we now endure the season with many a sudden "Bang!" when nuts land on the roof. This is the sign – it is time to collect the harvest.

Every year, I intend to create an Instructable for such a harvest, yet every year, I put it off. This year, feeling rather industrious, I felt it was time to create one. However, while searching to see if anyone else had already created such a tutorial, there it was. 'Triplezee' had already created an Instructable Forage and process your own black walnuts.

I’ve always felt funny about creating a duplicate, not wanting to detract from someone else’s hard work, so I gave up on the idea. But wait! As luck would have it, Triplezee’s Instructable was entered in the Hunter-Gatherer Contest, which ended October 6th. There was also another contest that did not end until October 13th, called Remix Contest, which encourages members to re-create existing Instructibles. Voila! I could participate after all!

Step 1: About the Black Walnut:

A rose is a rose is a rose. But the same does not apply to walnut trees. English walnuts, also referred to as Persian walnuts - Juglans regia, are the most common walnut available in the United States market, which is also the world's largest exporter of walnuts. This Instructable features Juglans nigra, also a walnut tree that is native to eastern North America, though not as easy to shell. Crack open an English nut, and you will find the nut is easily removed in whole, or even half. Not the case with black walnuts, as the shells are extremely hard, and the nuts are tightly wedged into the shells with deeply-hidden crevices.

Black walnuts are one of the healthiest of tree nuts. They are low in saturated fats, high in unsaturated fats, a good source of protein, iron, fiber, minerals and Vitamin A.

Once a black walnut tree is established, typically requiring eight to ten years, it will not only provide a bounty of nuts, but provide memories for generations of families. Many people recite stories of gathering black walnuts at their grandparents’ home, reminiscing about the dark stain left on any hands unwise enough to try processing them without gloves. Special memories include baked goodies made with the hard-earned nuts.There are difficult years, though, when a black walnut tree simply does not produce well.

The wood is incredibly hard, and notably beautiful, highly sought after by wood turners and for archery use, such as making long bows. The nuts are valued, and often at expensive cost, due to the amount of processing and tedious work involved in extraction of the nut meats, which differ from an English Walnut in that the black walnut tends to lodge itself inside the shell quite well. If you have ever shelled English walnuts, you may have noticed how very little care is necessary to obtain a whole, or even half nut, intact. Quite the opposite with a black walnut, but if done correctly, the rewards you reap will be well worth the effort.


Follow along as I show you what black walnut processing is all about.

<p>I love love love these pictures! They help so much and now I can say I actually know what I am doing and will be trying this soon when the walnuts start dropping in my backyard. Thanks so much.</p>
hello I'm mcfunworld I also live in northeast Oklahoma and I collect walnuts and I'm glad to see I'm not alone in this wall nut gathering group. what I do is gather them and drive them to my nearest buyer and he hulls them and gives me 14&cent;/pound after hulling and then he ships them off to Hammond's in MO and they use the meat to sell and the shell for sand blasting product and water filtration and you can go to there website put in your zip and they will find a buyer near you. I'm saying this in case there are people who don't want these wallnuts and want a little extra cash. -mcfunworld
<p>Very good Instructable! We have a few dozen black walnut trees and have never really tried proccesing them till now. We will be using many of your tricks and tips!</p><p>Thanks!</p>
oh I sure wish I saw this soonner an hour of peeling :-( great instructable though
<p>Thank you, Maryanna!</p>
<p>cool instructible, I was really curios how you were going to crack this things. I have only encountered black walnuts once or twice in my life time. The shell is on a totally different level then the english walnut which I can crack with my bare hands.</p>
<p>Many thanks, Bard.<br><br> I know one man who actually pries each one open with a screwdriver and then fishes the meat out with a nut pick. Knowing myself, I would end up jabbing myself in the arm with a tool. With my weak wrists, I have to rely on leverage-type crackers. Seems the market is flooded with the 'how to build a better mousetrap' type of crackers, but I give kudos to everyone that tries. Tough little boogers, they are. :-) </p>
<p>I have cracked walnuts since I was a kid and still do with my dad ( who must be part squirrel). We just use hammers on a clean concrete surface (relatively clean, a little dirt won't hurt you). I might check out those nut crackers because using hammers is a pain. I am from the ozarks also, just west of Springfield so that is close to home.</p>
<p>Hi Rb,<br><br>Same here, we've always just smacked them with a hammer or a small sledge. For years, we talked about trying a cutter, but could never justify the expense. I liked the Goody Getter we bought for several reasons, and one was that we knew we were supporting an ordinary guy from the Ozarks. :-).</p>
<p>I purchased a Goody Getter as a Christmas present for my dad. It works wonderfully. It cuts the process down by a huge amount of time and extremely easy. No more hammers for me. :) Thanks for the info.</p>
This is my first year harvesting and I'm currently doing it all by hand. <br><br>To prevent mold, can I use salt on the nuts to keep them clean while they dry?
<p>Hello Dutch,</p><p>Are you in a rainy and cool climate? You can bring the nuts indoors to dry if you must, I don't know anything about putting salt on them, but they would only need a week or two to dry, then you could sack them up in a breathable fabric such as burlap. :-) </p>
I'm in Alabama, so the humidity is messing with me.
<p>Walnuts to me are like more labor intensive pecans. I usually find that the more work I have to put into the nut the better it tastes, and I do like walnuts better than pecans. Thanks for showing the stages of breakdown for the outside layer, it helps to know that what you're looking at is still viable for eating. I've often looked down at blackened hulls and just left them, but now I'll make sure to throw them in a bag when I happen across them.</p><p>Have you ever tried burning the shells? I imagine that such a hard organic material would make good fuel.</p>
<p>We throw our walnut shells in our fireplace with wood, but not by themselves. The only thing you have to watch for is popping, but it is not really a big deal. But yes they burn well.</p>
<p>Good to know, RbDeraj, thank you. I'll keep a bucket of shells by the fire. :-)</p>
<p>Kakashibatosi, so true, very labor intensive, but to us, worth it as you mentioned. <br><br>Funny you should mention burning the shells, as we are about to install a new wood burning stove. I will definitely give it a try and let you know the results after we are up and firing. </p><p>Many thanks!</p>
<p>Oh I wish I had your tree! We had a black walnut tree in front of my house when I was a kid and a guy would come by and collect some nuts and make birds out of them! I found some nuts a few years ago and made two birds myself.. an owl and a regular bird. The only picture of the one bird I could find was on a wood cup but the body was the same as the owl. I just used the nuts a Dremel and some hot glue. Plus some stain and some cheap rhinestones. I just lobe the texture and the feel of the shells. Maybe next year you can send me some whole nuts I would love to make more but I can't find many trees up here in Toronto.</p>
<p>Hello Van,</p><p>I can't offer this to everyone, but I would gladly send some your way, provided we don't encounter a world of red tape at the border, LOL. If you are serious, send me a private message through Instructables and I'll send them to you. May I assume you mean in the shells, but without husks, yes? :-)</p>
<p>It is posts like yours that make me want to relocate and give up my dreams of electronic success. Thank you, Greatly!</p>
<p>WOW, I am going to take that as a wonderful compliment, thank you! </p>
<p>Very nicely done! I'm glad you shared this, duplicate or not. There are tons of duplicate subjects on instructables, and it's great to have mutliple sources of info on stuff. Thanks!</p>
<p>Thank you so much! I appreciate your comment. :-)</p>

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Bio: Let's skip the pretentious titles. At present, I am a paper pusher for a manufacturing plant. In the remainder of my life, I am ... More »
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