We don’t just have to grow traditional crops in our gardens, including fruit and vegetables. It is quite common to find walnut trees in many gardens. If this is the case in your garden, you need to know how to deal with the harvest. Remember that even small mistakes can make the difference.
The key is to watch when the first nuts start to fall. At that point, it’s time to go out and pick them regularly. The reason is simple. The longer they lie on the ground, the greater the risk of moisture and therefore mould. Especially if the weather is rainy.
Harvesting is not the end of the story though, as you also need to think about proper drying and storage. This involves not only having adequate space, but also having the right containers and tools to use for harvesting and storage.
Starting the harvest and harvesting them
Nuts are most often harvested in early October, this is when their season begins and they fall in large numbers. At this time you get a few days or weeks of harvesting. Be regular and consistent and pick nuts, if possible really carefully every day. Always remove the green skin. This is because nut skins are extremely high in tannins, which have a bitter taste. The longer the skin remains on the walnut, the more bitter the nut is likely to be inside.
Checking and drying
When you’ve finished picking all the nuts, crack a few to test them. Ideally, they should be bright, with no black spots or yellowing. If they are wet inside, which is most often due to heavy rain, you will need to either shell them or dry them in the oven at a low temperature. This can take several hours for the moisture to evaporate. However, this is the only way to prevent them from becoming mouldy, which would otherwise be guaranteed to happen. If the weather is sunny and the nuts are not moist inside, still place them on a sunny surface and let them warm up in the sun.
If you have dried the nuts thoroughly and then stored them properly, they will last for years. Place them in their shells in canvas bags and store them in a dry place. If you go to the trouble of shelling the nuts, store them in jars or other airtight containers. You can also pack the shelled nuts and freeze them in the freezer, where they will keep for up to a year and be on hand when you need them.