walnuts, part 2

October 30, 2017

If you’ve read walnuts, part 1, you may know that I am harvesting and processing walnuts for the very first time. We have an abundance of them scattered around. I thought to myself, this is the year! Why let them just sit there. Some for the squirrels and some for me. Win win. Please join me in the next step of this process, otherwise known as “removing the hulls.”

When I last wrote, the walnuts were sitting in hot water in a zippered bag, the intention being to make those hulls a bit easier to remove. In my preparations I’d read so very much about the hulls being very difficult to remove.

I took the nuts out of the bag after soaking for one hour, grabbed my rubber gloves* and began to break those hulls off. Turns out, they were not that difficult to remove and I am wondering if the soaking was an unnecessary step. After a bit more reading up, I learned that the longer the walnuts sit before hull removal, the softer the hull becomes. The nuts I picked up may have been sitting outside for a few days.

walnut hulls awaiting removal

*I’d also read about the staining power of the fluid in the hulls and that heavy gloves are recommended. Hence, the newspaper and rubber gloves. Yes, I have used these particular gloves for many, many tasks, including staining my raised beds and potting bench.

After the hull of that first nut was removed, I would love to say: Voila! A perfect walnut in the shell. But, I could only remove so much of the hull with my hands. There remained a gooey kind of coating on the nut shell.

walnuts undergoing processing

I used a garden hose and sprayer set to “jet” to remove most of that coating. Seemed to work just fine. Now this is much closer to a walnut, as I know them.

walnut after hull removal

To give you an idea of the kind of staining that can occur during walnut processing, here is an image. It looks similar to the color that cumin or turmeric leaves behind.

walnut and stain from processing

The last thing to do before being able to crack these babies open is to cure them to get them good and dry. Like with many things in life, I’ve received several different, and conflicting, pieces of advice. One source says to cure them for several days at 90F to 100F. Another source says a couple of weeks in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight. Those are pretty opposite each other. Hmm…

I think I am going to place them on a window ledge inside the house, which currently stays at about 65F to 69F, for one week. Then I will crack one open and see how we’re doing. Please stay tuned!

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