If you love walnuts, then you might be jealous of those who have walnut trees in their yard. However, if you ask any person with walnut trees, he might tell you that collecting walnuts can be quite a pain. It may take some effort to prepare raw walnuts, but the nutmeat or kernel is considered to be a delicacy that many people enjoy throughout the fall and winter.

Active Senior woman with handful of walnuts
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How to Prepare Raw Walnuts

Difference Between Black and English Walnuts

There are two different types of walnuts that people like to eat. The first is the English walnut and the second is the black walnut. Black walnuts are native to North America. They have a tough hull or husk and a tough shell. They are from a common native tree. One species is located east of the Rockies, and that is the main species of black walnuts. There are also two species of black walnuts in California and a couple in Arizona and Texas. The major difference in English walnuts (also known as Persian walnuts) is that they are easier to shell than black walnuts, and they are sold in the store. Also, black walnuts taste stronger than regular ones.

About Harvesting Walnuts

It's important to harvest walnuts as soon as they fall to the ground. Raw walnuts come into maturity from late September to early October. Most people wait until the nuts fall to the ground to start gathering them, but you can actually shake them from the tree or pull them down with a pole. Black walnuts are ready to be harvested when the outer husk is soft and green. The nutmeat or kernel should be a lighter color and have a mild taste. If you are going to collect them from the ground, you need to do so immediately. If you wait a long time, they can become moldy and taste bad. However, if you wait a while for them to soften naturally, it will allow easier access to the nutmeat.

How to Prepare Walnuts

It's recommended that you wear gloves to get the nutmeat out of the walnut shell so that you don't stain your hands. To get the husk off, you can use a heavy hammer or your foot to shear off the husk. Next, you're going to wash the unshelled nuts in a bucket. Soaking nuts helps to remove excess juice and debris and is an excellent way to check and see if there are nuts in the shell. If there isn't a nut, the unfilled shell will float to the top of your bucket.

How to Open Walnuts

After washing the nuts, you can dry them by spreading them out in direct sunlight. Once the nuts are dried out, you can store them in a cool place for up to a year. When you try and open the nuts, you can't use an ordinary nutcracker. Most people use a hammer, but you can also use a block of wood or a big rock to crack the nut open. If you don't want to eat the nutmeat immediately, you can allow it to dry out for a day or two and then refrigerate it. You can also freeze them in frozen jars or freezer bags for two or more years. Unshelled nuts can be kept in a cloth bag or wire basket in 60 degrees Fahrenheit or less, but they must not be shelled.