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Black walnuts have a distinctively robust and earthy flavor, best described as slightly bitter with a hint of sweetness. They can be eaten raw as a snack or added to baked goods and cooked dishes. These delicious nuts are an excellent source of plant-based protein, so don’t miss out on this beneficial harvest from your black walnut trees!

Harvesting black walnuts involves several steps to ensure you gather the nuts at their peak and process them properly. Here’s our guide to gathering black walnuts while they are at their best

1. Right Timing

The eastern American black walnut. North American native plant.
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Black walnuts ripen and fall from the tree in late summer to early fall when the hulls (outer casing) turn from green to yellowish-green or brownish-black. This is the perfect time to harvest.

2. Gather Black Walnuts When Ready

Special Tool To Pick Up Walnuts.
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Black walnut hulls can stain your hands, so make sure to wear gloves when gathering fallen nuts. Pick fallen nuts from the ground, discarding any that are moldy or damaged. Ripe nuts should fall naturally from the tree, but a gentle shake of the branches will maximize your harvest.

3. Remove the Hulls

Autumn harvest of walnuts in the garden, lie on an old board.
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Now for the tricky bit! Black walnuts have a thick, fleshy hull that needs to be removed before storing or processing the nuts. Black walnut hulls can be cracked by stamping on them, hitting them with a rubber mallet, or even driving over them with a vehicle (yes, they are that tough!).

Once cracked, peel away the hulls from the inner nut, remembering to wear gloves. The hulls contain high levels of juglone, so they should be burned or thrown in the trash rather than composted.

4. Clean Black Walnuts

Woman hand holding nuts on the table.
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Once the hulls have been removed, rinse the nuts with water to remove any remaining debris or residue. Use a stiff brush or scrubbing pad to help clean the nuts thoroughly.

5. Dry Black Walnuts

Abstract background of organic black walnuts in shells.
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Air dry the cleaned nuts in a well-ventilated area for several weeks. Spread them out in a single layer on a screen or wire mesh to ensure even airflow around each nut. The nuts are dry when the shells become hard and no longer feel soft or pliable.

6. Crack the Shells

Man cracking walnuts with hammer at table, closeup.
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Black walnut shells are notoriously hard, so cracking them can be challenging. Use a heavy-duty nutcracker or a hammer and a sturdy surface to crack the shells open, taking care not to damage the nutmeat inside.

7. Extract the Black Walnuts

Walnuts in the hands of a woman on the background of peeled nuts and a walnut cracker, the theme of healthy nutrition, vegetarianism, raw food diet.
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Once the shells are cracked, gently prize them open and pick out the nuts.

8. Store Them

black walnuts
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Once harvested, dried black walnuts can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to one year. However, the flavor deteriorates over time, and the food can become rancid. An alternative is to store black walnuts in the freezer until needed.

15 Plants That Get Along Great with Black Walnuts

black walnut green fruit
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some plants grow very happily near black walnut trees, seemingly immune to the toxic effects of juglone. To help you plan what to grow in and around these wonderful trees, we’ve found 15 of the very best companion plants for black walnuts.

15 Plants That Get Along Great with Black Walnuts

12 Plants to Grow Alongside Your Blueberry Bushes to Keep Them Happy

blueberry bushes
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Planting the right companion plants near blueberry bushes can help to ensure successful fruiting. Here are some plants that you should grow alongside blueberry bushes to help them thrive.

12 Plants to Grow Alongside Your Blueberry Bushes to Keep Them Happy

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