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Processing Black Walnuts

Jerry Ward


Joined: Sep 09, 2010
Posts: 157
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
    
    1
I have 6-8 large black walnut trees on my property and would like to know how to process them to at least get the green outer husk off of them. Everything I've heard they are difficult and they stain.


Starting on developing a 10 acre permaculture homestead in a sub-urban area. see http://www.my10acres.info
osker brown


Joined: Jun 28, 2011
Posts: 146
Location: Southern Appalachia
Driving over them is good for larger quantities, then pick the shells out with heavy rubber gloves. Another option that is possibly just as fast is to stomp the husk off. If you let them just start to soften, before they're turning black it's pretty easy. A search on youtube can find videos of various contraptions folks use, I'm not too mechanically inclined so these two simple methods work best for me. I've used both methods to process decent quantities (3-5 bushels of de-husked nuts).

Cracking the shells is a whole other issue...

peace


Glorious Forest Farm
Lance Kleckner


Joined: Feb 22, 2013
Posts: 80
Location: West Iowa
    
    1
Run them through a corn sheller helps knock off the husks.


http://www.fastgrowingtrees.us/KlecknerOasis
http://www.bigfootwillow.com
wayne stephen
steward

Joined: Mar 11, 2012
Posts: 1567
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
    
  87
The simplest tool I have seen {besides backing over with car} is a plank and mallet. Cut a hole in a plank big enough for a hulled walnut to go through. Too small for unhulled. Place unhulled walnut over hole and whack it with wooden or rubber mallet. You can do this when the hull is still green and fresh and preserve for herbal medicine. They do stain especially when they splatter. If you don't know already , the nuts need to cure in the shell for a few months. The simplest way I have seen is to hang them in onion sacks in a dry cool place. This is why you can sell hulled walnuts to a processor for $8 per 100 lbs and yet they retail for $16 a pound for pieces. Even the squirrels eat them last. If there is a good hickory crop you won't see a squirrel anywhere near a walnut tree.


Permaculture is CPR for the planet !


Austin Max


Joined: Mar 15, 2012
Posts: 98
Location: South Central Kentucky
    
    1
I have seen cast iron crank style de-hullers but I haven't used one. I go for the stomping method, although its tedious I've found it works best for me. After that I put them in a bucket of water and use a long drill mounted paint mixer to clean them. This is quick and easy, and leaves you with squeaky clean walnuts.

Like Osker said, cleaning is a piece of cake compared to cracking...
Cassie Rauk
volunteer

Joined: Nov 08, 2012
Posts: 92
Location: Southeast MN (Zone 5b)
    
  37
I came across this on twitter today. It has a bit of a plug for a product of theirs but the process is sound. It is on Hammond Nut Emporium's site

Funny thing, we had 8 or 9 huge walnut trees on our farm growing up, we picked up walnuts all fall but never ate them ourselves. My folks sold them and used the money to get our Christmas presents.
Cris Bessette
volunteer

Joined: May 20, 2011
Posts: 671
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 8A
    
  29

I will second the "drive over them" advice. Its best when the shells have aged and dried out, not so much a problem with staining and easier to get off.


The pain in the butt part is getting the nuts out of them insanely hard shells. That is the main thing that discourages me from using them.


Yone' Ward


Joined: Feb 14, 2012
Posts: 135
Location: Springdale, WA USA - Cold Mediterranean Climate
It might be more sanitary to mount two tires on bearings so that they are tread to tread, have one driven by an electric motor, and drop the shells down between them so they get crushed between them. Just make sure you don't get between the tires. You will also get processed if you do. That's the bad way to add protein to food.


Just call me Uncle Rice.
17 years in a straw bale house.
Cris Bessette
volunteer

Joined: May 20, 2011
Posts: 671
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 8A
    
  29
Yone' Ward wrote:It might be more sanitary to mount two tires on bearings so that they are tread to tread, have one driven by an electric motor, and drop the shells down between them so they get crushed between them. Just make sure you don't get between the tires. You will also get processed if you do. That's the bad way to add protein to food.


Driving over them is to remove the soft outer husk- the nut meat is still inside the hard inner shell (no sanitary problem)

I've driven over black walnuts numerous times in a drive ways without them cracking. Putting them between too rubber tires would probably just annoy them.


Natty Zickuhr


Joined: Apr 03, 2013
Posts: 10
Like Austin, I've found what has worked for me many times is rolling them under my feet with old sneakers on. I usually collect several bushels in the fall and process them either green or once they turn oozy. I prefer to process them green, but rarely get around to it in time. I pour maybe two gallons out on a concrete surface and use one foot at a time to roll the hulls off. Works pretty well for me. After I dehull them, I throw em in a bucket and when it's two thirds full, I pour a bunch of water over them so they're barely covered. I then take a broom handle or something similar and vigorously stir them, rinse and repeat. This gets enough of tannic ooze off them so that you can safely handle them without dyeing your skin although gloves are important for this. Its helpful for the bucket to be mostly full with walnuts when you do this because the texture of the hulls abrades the hull fragments off better when they're all jammed in against each other. The first rinse can be saved if you want to use it for dyeing wool, hair, or using for vegetable tanning (which is traditional tanning with TANnic acid vegetative matter). The hulls are also an important herbal medicine for fungal conditions, intestinal parasites, anemia, lymph stagnation, and is constitutionally warming among other things.

Seems to me there's no "easy" way to dehull them, but after trying several other methods this has been pretty satisfactory to me. I'd reckon I can dehull 6 or 8 finished gallons per hour (approx. 3 bushels unprocessed).

One question I have to throw in the mix is about cracking. I have found a hammer and a well placed crack to be the most effective way to extract the nut. My buddy dropped 100$ on a black walnut cracker on eBay that was truly disappointing. Anyone have any other techniques?


Cheers,
Nathanael
Cortland Satsuma


Joined: Mar 17, 2013
Posts: 305
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
    
    5
Question about once they are blackened: Can you still process them for eating? We only have one in our forest (a squirrel planting?); I gathered a paper bag full with the intent of the low tech approach of driving over them and forgot to get back to them. When I realized it, they were black. So I have a bag of "now what?!" lol
Cris Bessette
volunteer

Joined: May 20, 2011
Posts: 671
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 8A
    
  29
I've had black walnuts in the shell for 6 months or so before I used them, they were still good.

The best way I've found to get the nut meat out is to use a hammer to break them into large pieces, then to use some needle nose cutters/pliers to cut the small
bits of hard shell out of the way. Then I use a nut pick to get the nut meat out.

Seems like I remember reading somewhere that soaking them in water, then baking them in the oven for a short while makes them shell easier, but maybe I imagined that.

Natty Zickuhr


Joined: Apr 03, 2013
Posts: 10
As long as they are allowed to properly dry, the walnuts can remain unhulled for some time. If they are bathing in their degrading hull like in a bucket with other unprocessed walnuts, that's another story. I'd say they last a month or so this way but I wouldn't push it. But crack one- if you have had black walnuts before you will know if theyre bad or not. If you haven't, the nutmeat center should be dry and firm and creamy white not yellow or brown, and should taste like a mildly astringent banana-y walnut. Like other walnuts they have a thin seed coat that is light to dark brown. Also, if you harvest them on the ground, there will be small weevil larvae in the hulls that start to appear once they get black. If yours have been sitting for a few months the larvae are probably either pickled or dormant as pupae by now. I think these make it into the hulls from eggs laid on the walnuts once they fall. Regardless, they're harmless, but some more squeamish types might want to process them before they get this far along.

A note on harvesting black walnuts: we don't have many other species of nut trees around here in Mineapolis besides of course some oaks, so the squirrels really go crazy when these things fall. I prefer to harvest them in a nearby park where they are rather spaced out and therefore have a rather large and low spread with the first branches at around 10 feet up. Since I rather enjoy climbing, I use this to my advantage by waiting for the first few walnuts to fall and then scaling the tree and shaking the branches. I try to use my body weight as much as possible to do this because it becomes rather tiring. Usually one or more people are below to pick up the green torpedoes as they drop on them from on high. I think wide open areas with lots of trees to choose from are best because you can find the ones with the largest nuts and harvest those first- they vary widely based on genetics it seems more than growing conditions. The same trees have the same size nuts year after year. For those of you who have harvested small black walnuts and gone through the work of processing them, I'm sure you can relate how frustrating it is to get them all dehulled only to find they're impossible to shell. The big ones not only have much bigger nutmeats, those are way easier to extract. Large ones are bigger than tennis balls and yield half dollar sized nuts.
Cortland Satsuma


Joined: Mar 17, 2013
Posts: 305
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
    
    5
Hi Natty,
We picked (shook from the tree) as we knew not to collect the prior fallen. Ours were about the same size as a tennis ball or slightly smaller. They dried in the paper bag. Not as bad as it could be, but very questionable! My concern is the tannins having leached into the nuts (?). If the consensus is they are not edible; my next thought is on planting them for transfer to our forest. (I will take your advise and check at least one any way...Thank You!) Aside....we do have lots of oaks here...however, our squirrels take the nuts too! In fact, we were reminded to go to the front of the property to harvest by a squirrel scampering along our long drive with one in tow.
Melba Corbett


Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Posts: 160
Location: North Carolina
I always pick them up after they fall from the tree if I'm going to shell them for nuts. Store in a flat cardboard box (so they don't mold, high humidity on the east coast where I live), and let them age out in the garage or somewhere the squirrels can't raid them. After a few months, the shells have turned black, dried out and are falling off. Then you can drive over them or peel it off without it staining your hands. Sometimes it just falls off. Cracking and shelling them out is the hard part. Good luck.
I've never found larvae in the nuts, but sometimes in the hulls.

If I'm making tincture I pick green nuts half grown, from the tree, rinse them in plain water, dry, and put into glass jars, and then cover with grain alcohol, or vodka. Let sit a week to 10 days (or longer) in a dark place, slightly swirling the jar once daily if you remember, but works anyway. Pour off what you need and put into tincture bottles or whatever you plan to store it in. Amber colored best as it prevents light from biodegrading your tincture. Good for parasite cleanse.

Black walnuts and their hulls are very high in natural iodine, a natural disinfectant.


Wild Edible & Medicinal Plant classes, & DVDs
Live in peace, walk in beauty, love one another.
Cortland Satsuma


Joined: Mar 17, 2013
Posts: 305
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
    
    5
Hi Melba,
Good to know! Mine did not mold as they were stored in climate controlled area. So I may have some nuts after all! I do harvest some leaves for a herb tea cleanse; have not scraped the bark for same use; nor did I know about the alcohol soak of young nuts (husks). Thank you for the tip! I will plan to do so this year.
Natty Zickuhr


Joined: Apr 03, 2013
Posts: 10
Hey Iamme,

I have no doubt that you still have edible nuts under those dried hulls. It'd be interesting to see if they'd sprout or not...I know white oak acorns for instance cannot be dried before germination(these are the ones that tend to germinate in the fall under the parent tree). I think red oak acorns can dry somewhat since they need a period of dormancy.

...Actually as I was typing this I became curious and instead of dumbly speculating, I looked it up. This is an interesting article on planting walnuts. The pertinent info is halfway down:
http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/naturalresources/dd0505.html
By what the article says it sounds like your nuts may not be viable but it does give good ideas about planting walnuts for those interested.

Alright, time to go collect some maple sap and get off the dern internt! Cheers!
Cortland Satsuma


Joined: Mar 17, 2013
Posts: 305
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
    
    5
Hi Natty,
I am responding knowing you are out with your maples! Some day, we will too! (Planning to plant about 300 saplings / seedlings next year). Thank you for looking up the info on planting the walnuts, that was to be my next step!
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3772
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  53
I tumbled walnuts in a cement mixer along with some softball sixed stones. Works well. Pea gravel can be used in a clean up run after the bulk is removed.


QUOTES FROM MEMBERS --- In my veterinary opinion, pets should be fed the diet they are biologically designed to eat. Su Ba...The "redistribution" aspect is an "Urban Myth" as far as I know. I have only heard it uttered by those who do not have a food forest, and are unlikely to create one. John Polk ...Even as we sit here, wondering what to do, soil fungi are degrading the chemicals that were applied. John Elliott ... O.K., I originally came to Permies to talk about Rocket Mass Heaters RMHs, and now I have less and less time in my life, and more and more Good People to Help ! Al Lumley...I think with the right use of permie principles, most of Wyoming could be turned into a paradise. Miles Flansburg... Then you must do the pig's work. Sepp Holzer
Collin Wolfe


Joined: Jan 18, 2013
Posts: 19
Location: 2b Regina. Sk
    
    3
Six or more trees may be a stretch for hand processing but if you are game I found this hands on video that was useful. link You might have to mechanize more but at least this is a place to start from.
allen lumley
pollinator

Joined: Mar 16, 2012
Posts: 2280
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
    
  38
I was hoping to catch a comment on just how extremely Allopathic(sp?) the husks on Butternut and Black Walnuts are. Often I find some tree stump, like a young Elm,
will try to self-coppice, which I do not want at that location. A few juicy bits of the outer bark/husk of the nuts of this family of trees put in a plastic bag and slipped
down onto the stump, and wired on will often kill the young trees before they can coppice. -I have had some Elm Saplings/Elder wood growing next to houses and the
roots being nourished off of the houses eves drip lines, after the UV rays have shredded the plastic bags, the walnut husk is flushed off the stumps by rain from the
eves and a stump I thought was dead for years turns out to be merely dormant!

Still, I find the Allopathic effects to be at least -always effective enough, to buy me some time to deal with Elder wood*, rather than dealing with them like they were an
unruly bush on the side of the house that needed yearly trimming. Big Al

*Elder woods ability to lie dormant for years and spring back to life was a formerly well known thing and is probably the reason the ' Elder Wand ' made famous in the
'Harry Potter series' was picked for that honor ! You will have to take that up with J.K. Rowling, about the only other personal experience I have with Elder wood
is that it makes a fair walking stick that can poke up a hot fire at a campsite with little fire damage, if this was known to the ancients I am sure it would have been
treasured lore also ! For the good of the Crafts ! A.L.


Success has a Thousand Fathers , Failure is an Orphan

LOOK AT THE " SIMILAR THREADS " BELOW !
Peter Montague


Joined: Nov 11, 2013
Posts: 6
Hi all you permies! I've been obsessing about this topic for a while. I think I've red every forum discussion, article, publication, blog post and watched every video on the internet while doing my research on processing black walnuts. I processed about 1,400 this year and did a thorough wright up here http://lynwooddesigns.com/blog.html I've found the two most important pieces of equipment are a antique corn husker to remove the hulls and a corded drill with a large mixing paddle installed. I was hulling, cleaning and laying out to dry at a rate of 400 an hour. Figuring out this work flow has made the process less daunting. If you had one person hulling and one cleaning with this work flow you could easily do 20,000 nuts. Shelling has been a point of contention for me. I shudder at the thought of cracking 1,400 nuts one at a time. The only "home owner" machine that can do it quickly is the drill cracker and it's nearly 500$. I did find the universal nut sheller by the full belly project which you cast in concrete your self but saw little data on its use with black walnuts and it also is over 400$. This is because you get a reusable fiberglass mold. This product is designed for 3rd world reproduction and distribution. I'm currently working on concrete model that will be able to shell black walnuts, pine nuts and everything in between. In the upcoming weeks I'll be doing the first castings and a finished product will hopefully be up for sale by Christmas. The basic idea is you open the box and poor in concrete. It of course will involve a few more steps than that but you can see where I'm going with this, dead simple and totally effective is the goal. I'm looking forward to having this sheller next fall and expanding into acorns as well as other nuts. I think this http://www.amazon.com/Piteba-Nut-Seed-Expeller-press/dp/B004H2SDTM would make a good companion machine. I watched some videos of folks making acorn oil. Of course I'm now thinking about grinding grain. This is a problem I have, one obsession turns into 10 projects!
Gus Mccologie


Joined: Feb 19, 2013
Posts: 11
I processed about 65 pounds of (dehulled but in shell) BW this year. The nuts being the by-product as I was making dye.
Hulled with a paring knife cut round the middle, then twisted off. About 250?/hour.
I hosed them on a hardware cloth screen to clean off the pithy residue, then dried them in the sun on old sheets in the driveway for an hour or so. If you have squirrels stay near or put your dog on the job!
They are now hanging in large mesh bags about 10 pounds each. The onion type, although mine are purple and were snagged at summer company picnic- they were holding clams.
It was a full days work if you count gathering to hanging the filled bags and cleaning everything up.

They have to dry a couple of months. Until then the meat is very white and full in the shell and impossible to get out without mashing it to looking like oatmeal. It's also easy to miss pieces of the shell. After it shrinks a little, it releases easily, and the nutmeat is more translucent like the more often seen English walnut.

There are old BW shellers made specifically for because they are so tough, you can't just break the shell- the immense pressure you need just shatters and mashes everything together at once. The old ones are like a bottle capper and only close so much so only the shell is broken. Like a mounted vise grip, but those don't have the power to crack them. Short of buying something (and most of what I've seen looks cheaply made or is pretty expensive) I have found the standard bench vice to be the perfect tool for the job. Just set up a large cardboard box for the pieces to fall into, and put pressure across the nut, not lengthwise. There's a learning curve of about 20 nuts then you'll be a pro.

Also if you don't want to wait like me for them to dry or spend over an hour picking out wet pieces to get enough for 1/2 C for a batch of cookies, you can dry them on top a wood stove. I put them on a cooling rack elevated up for air circulation and so they wouldn't scorch. I left them overnight and they had split open a little and dried perfectly so they released in nice large pieces when cracked. A hot car might work too if you left them in a day or two. That's how I dry herbs, on cardboard in the back window, it only takes about 30 minutes and retains great color.
Remember to only do however many nuts you need short term though, as most of them opened a little so wouldn't be good to store afterward.
Peter Montague


Joined: Nov 11, 2013
Posts: 6
I made a lot of ink and stain last month. Half the stain will be thickened to make hair dye. The hulls worked extremely well for this. I still have 25 gallons of hulls to process. Why do all my interests involve so much work
Peter Montague


Joined: Nov 11, 2013
Posts: 6
Cortland Satsuma wrote: Question about once they are blackened: Can you still process them for eating? We only have one in our forest (a squirrel planting?); I gathered a paper bag full with the intent of the low tech approach of driving over them and forgot to get back to them. When I realized it, they were black. So I have a bag of "now what?!" lol


They are fine. I have personally done tests and never seen the rotting hull penetrate the shell. Many even Waite till they are black because of how easy they are to deal with.
Peter Montague


Joined: Nov 11, 2013
Posts: 6
Jerry Ward wrote: I have 6-8 large black walnut trees on my property and would like to know how to process them to at least get the green outer husk off of them. Everything I've heard they are difficult and they stain.


I'm curious Jerry, what did you end up doing?
Jerry Ward


Joined: Sep 09, 2010
Posts: 157
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
    
    1
I haven't found a solution yet. I've been too busy this fall to really work on it, but am making plans for next year. My dad did a few hundred using the method of a hole in a board just big enough for the nut and hit them with a hammer. This drives the nut through the husk, but is time consuming and messy.

I'm thinking one of these for next year
http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/corn_sheller_hand_operated_crank_manual_antique_walnut_stationary.aspx
Cortland Satsuma


Joined: Mar 17, 2013
Posts: 305
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
    
    5
@Peter...

How did you market your, ink, stain, and dye? I have not pursued this as I am not knowledgeable on the sale of these products and it seemed a very messy project.
Peter Montague


Joined: Nov 11, 2013
Posts: 6
Haven't marketed it yet but there is a functioning web store on my site and it will be on my etsy page as well. Teh ink that is nearly done just needs the addition of gum Arabic. I got small glass bottles from ULINE and need to have stamps made for te labels. Looking at three different products, hair dye, ink and wood stain. I got my eye on a triple burner propane stove for less than 50$ on amazon so my room mates don't have to deal with the mess. Included is a wonderful drawing my friend Emily Garfield did. Very talented, look up her stuff.

I get distracted easy with projects so now I'm on acorns . Found some trees that are still dropping, never new you can get oil from them. Hopefully next week I can prototype the nut cracker. My goal is all 1,400 walnuts cracked in 10 minutes!

You might be able to get a antique corn husker on eBay for less than the new one. I looked last month and there where over 20 for sale. As long as the nuts and bolts aren't frozen (or you can replace them yourself) on the spring that controls the crushing pressure your good to go.

This fall I discovered that folks post there unwanted nut crops on craigslist. Almost got some butternuts but they had already been put in the trash. I now have a calendar event on my phone for oct 1 2014 with his email as the todo.



[Thumbnail for image.jpg]

Peter Montague


Joined: Nov 11, 2013
Posts: 6
The average price seems to be around 2$ an ounce. 8oz bottle 16$. But it's all about presentation. Label, packaging, photos etc... So make a lot at once to keep the labor hours down. If you haven't read the blog post I did you should. It's certainly not the
Most well written article ever but I did my homework and had grate results. It's funny no ones curing times or temps for walnuts are the same.
Cortland Satsuma


Joined: Mar 17, 2013
Posts: 305
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
    
    5
@Peter...

Thank you for the information. I will check your link. As to the gum, where are you bulk buying it? I had looked for it for other projects and found it rather pricey. As to the corn huskers, I see them for sale about once a week in central VA. Either farm section of CL or at the Local Auction Houses (many are online bidding). I probably will not yet launch into this for a couple of years; as, I would rather deal with the mess on a propane burner in my not yet built work / sunroom. (We are converting a useless, undersized "double" garage and doing a windowed room add on. It will serve as our green house, herb drying, cheese / yogurt, jams, and storage area.) Walnut processing will work fine there. You should start another thread on your oak acorns and one for hickory nuts. Many of us have them. Finding new ways to maximise the value of these crops is an excellent topic. CL is where a lot of home owners get rid of their "nuisance" nuts. Some of the pig farmers capitalised on that market out here. Until we can fully utilise what we have, I will not be competing with them for the nuts...I am glad to see them not wasted and the pigs eating a natural diet.
Spencer Davis


Joined: Nov 03, 2013
Posts: 46
Location: New Castle, IN
    
    1
I too was working on walnuts this fall. I have about 40 trees on my ground. This was my experimental year as I have not harvested them before. I made a contraption to hull them. I don't have a pic but I will try to explain. I started with a plastic barrel. I cut the top off of the barrel and attached legs to the barrel that raised the bottom of the barrel about 4 feet of the ground. I then cut a hole in the bottom center of the barrel about 8 inches or so. I fashioned a slide gate onto this hole. Next I took chicken wire and rolled it up a few layers deep and made a tube about the same size as the hole in the barrel. The tube was then fastened to the slide gate on the bottom of the barrel. Another slide gate was fastened to the end of the tube. Basically so far you have a barrel up I. The air with a steel mesh tube below it with slide gates to control the nuts in and out of the tube. The barrel simply acts as a hopper to hold the nuts. Underneath the tube I put a bucket on the ground. Now is the fun part lol. I got the pressure washer out and went to town. Using the highest setting, the washer easily blew the hulls of the nuts and washed them perfectly. After the nuts in the tube were bulled and cleaned I wud empty them into a bucket, then fill the tube again and start over. If you use an empty bucket under the tube while you are spraying them, water will collect in it and then you have wood stain. I found this to be the best way to hull and clean the nuts all in one step.
Also I found that if I put some nuts in the food dehydrator, they could be ready to eat very quickly. I have dried some of mine for 24-36 hrs and they are ready to crack and eat.
 
 
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