Walnut Tree Harvesting: When Are Walnuts Ready To Pick

When are walnuts ready to pick?

The answer depends on several factors. First, it depends on how old your tree is. If you have a young tree, then you may want to wait until the tree becomes mature before harvesting walnuts. Some experts recommend waiting until the tree reaches at least 50 years of age or older. Older trees generally produce better quality nuts than younger ones.

Second, it depends on what kind of walnuts you plan to harvest. For example, if you’re planning to make walnut butter, then you’ll need to wait until the nuts are fully developed and firm enough so they won’t break apart when squeezed into a jar.

On the other hand, if you’re going to use them for baking purposes like cookies or cakes, then you can harvest them now since they’ve already been hardened.

Third, it depends on where you live. For instance, if you live in California, then you probably don’t have too much trouble with picking walnuts right now because there’s plenty of fruit available year round.

However, if you lived farther away from the coast or inland areas and had to travel long distances to get some walnuts, then things might become difficult. You could try growing your own walnuts but that would require a lot of time and effort. In general, if you don’t want to wait too long for your own harvest, then it might be a good idea to buy them at a grocery store or from a local farmer in your area.

Finally, you’ll need to wait until the walnuts have ripened on the tree before you can harvest them. They should be a dark, glossy brown in color and fall off by themselves when ripe.

If you try to pick a green walnut, then the shell will still be hard and it won’t produce any meat. If you don’t have patience, then you might consider doing something else to keep yourself busy until the right time.

What is the best way to harvest black walnuts?

That depends on your preference. Some people might choose to use a bucket-lathe when climbing up into the tree. Others may prefer to use a ladder or even a tall sturdy pole. There are many methods to harvest black walnuts but the most important thing is that you use caution since there’s a chance of falling. It’s also a good idea to wear protective gear such as gloves and goggles when handling the heavy shells.

When Are Black Walnuts Ready To Pick?

Black walnuts are ready to pick when you see dark spots or stripes on the shell. In some cases the entire shell will turn dark brown or even almost black. In other cases, you may find black walnuts that still have a green shell but this green shell doesn’t last for long and it usually starts cracking or shriveling soon after it matures. It’s okay to pick black walnuts whenever you find them but most people prefer to wait until they’re ripe because unripe black walnuts taste bad. Ripe black walnuts that have turned dark brown can be stored in a cool, dry place for several months.

You may find green black walnuts if you live near an oak tree or another type of tree. Black oaks produce a special type of leaf that sometimes create small green nuts that grow on the tree.

These green nuts are not edible and you shouldn’t try to eat them. Instead, you should wait until they turn brown and shriveled before harvesting them.

Do Black Walnuts Have An Unusual Smell Or Taste?

Yes, black walnuts have an unusual smell and taste when compared to other types of nuts. Sometimes the smell is pleasant and other times it’s a little bit sour or bitter. Most people don’t seem to mind the taste of black walnuts but it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you taste test one. If you see a black walnut with a green shell, then it’s probably not good to eat because this means it’s unripe.

When Is The Best Time To Pick Black Walnuts?

Black walnuts can be picked whenever you find them but most people prefer to pick them after they’ve turned dark brown and the shell has started to shrivel or crack. The meat inside should also be dark brown or black and this is when they taste the best.

How Do I Know If A Black Walnut Is Good To Eat?

You can test a black walnut by cracking it open and eating a small piece of the meat from inside. Some people don’t like the taste but others seem to enjoy it. If you want to eat the meat inside, then you should wait until it’s dark brown or almost black in color. You can even make a test cut with a knife to see if the inside is dark enough because it’s hard to judge based on the shell alone.

Are Black Walnuts Good For You?

Yes, black walnuts are good for you but they are very high in fat so don’t overdo it. The fat content in black walnuts can help to lower your cholesterol level and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition to being high in fat, black walnuts are also loaded with nutrients such as magnesium, copper, riboflavin, manganese, vitamin B6, and vitamin E. Black walnuts also have a high concentration of essential amino acids that are important for good health.

How Do I Cook With Black Walnuts?

Black walnuts taste excellent when used in baked goods such as breads and cakes. You can also try making pesto with black walnuts for a nice change of pace. Black walnut ice cream is also popular among some people. You can even use the shells to make black dye for cloth or paper.

How Long Do Black Walnuts Last?

Black walnuts have a fairly long shelf life and can stay good for one to two years if kept in a cool, dry place.

Should You Put Black Walnuts In The Refrigerator?

You don’t have to refrigerate black walnuts but they will last longer if you do. Putting them in the refrigerator will also make them taste better because colder temperatures cause the fats and flavors to mature better.

How Do You Preserve Black Walnuts?

You can preserve black walnuts by drying them or keeping them in salt or sugar. You can even use honey to preserve them if you like the taste of them when they’ve been preserved with honey.

Why Do Black Walnuts Have A Reputation For Being Cursed?

Most people have heard the story about black walnuts being covered in a blackish-green mold and being poisonous. This is just an old wives tale and black walnuts are not poisonous to eat. However, it’s true that they can attract mold if they’re not dried quickly enough after being submerged underwater. There is a toxic mold that grows on black walnuts but it’s blue or green in color and not black.

How Long Do Black Walnut Trees Live?

The average life span of most black walnut trees is between 60 and 80 years.

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Black Walnut Recipes

Black Walnut Bread

Ingredients:

3 cups of whole wheat flour

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 cup of unrefined cane sugar or brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 cup of vegetable oil (it’s okay to substitute this with olive oil or coconut oil)

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2 cups of black walnuts, chopped

1 cup of black cherry juice (or you can use apple, grape or apple juice)

Preparation Instructions:

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Mix together the flours, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking soda in a large bowl.

3) Stir in the chopped black walnuts and pour in the cup of black cherry juice or one of the other juices mentioned above.

Stir well until the ingredients form a very stiff dough.

4) Place the dough on a floured surface and roll it out until it’s about half an inch thick.

5) Using a biscuit cutter, cut the dough into 2-inch rounds and place them on a baking sheet.

Lightly brush each round with vegetable oil and bake for about 15 minutes or until they turn a golden brown color.

6) Place the baked rounds in a single layer on a wire rack and let them cool completely.

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies.

Black Walnut Pie

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Ingredients:

1 cup of black walnuts, chopped (plus more for topping optional)

2 tablespoons of butter, melted

1 1/2 cups of sugar

3 drops of vanilla flavoring (or pure vanilla extract)

4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder

1 pinch of salt

1/2 cup of buttermilk (plus more as needed)

1 9-inch prepared pie crust (your favorite recipe or a store-bought one)

Preparation Instructions:

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

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2) In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the black walnuts, butter, sugar, vanilla and salt with a fork until it resembles a paste.

Add the flour and cocoa powder and mix well. Stir in the 1/2 cup of buttermilk and add more buttermilk until the ingredients form a stiff dough.

3) Spoon the filling into the pie crust and top it with more chopped black walnuts (if desired).

4) Bake your pie for about 30 to 35 minutes or until it turns a light brown color.

5) Place the pie on a wire rack and let it cool for at least an hour before serving.

Makes 1 pie.

Black Walnut Fudge

Ingredients:

4 cups of granulated sugar

2/3 cup of corn syrup

1 1/2 cups of black walnuts, chopped (plus more for sprinkling)

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1 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of vanilla flavoring (or pure vanilla extract)

1/4 cup of water

2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup of butter

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1 cup of chopped pecans (optional)

Preparation Instructions:

1) Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, 1/2 cup of water, the black walnuts, salt and vanilla extract in a large stock pot.

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Place the pot over medium heat and bring the ingredients to a boil while stirring them. Continue to stir the ingredients once they come to a boil.

Once the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring and let the contents come to a rolling boil. Boil the ingredients for about 25 minutes while monitoring the heat to make sure the ingredients aren’t boiling over. Turn down the heat if necessary.

2) While the ingredients are boiling, place the chocolate chips, butter and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl and microwave for about 2 minutes or until the butter and chocolate have melted.

Stir well.

3) Carefully pour the butter and chocolate mixture into the pot of boiling ingredients and stir well.

Continue to stir the ingredients and make sure they don’t boil over. Boil the ingredients for an additional 5 minutes then remove the pot from the heat.

Stir well as the fudge will initially thicken slightly once it’s off the heat.

4) Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan then pour the fudge into the pan.

Place the fudge in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

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5) Top the fudge with chopped pecans (if desired).

Makes about 1 1/2 pounds of fudge.

Black Walnut Butter

Ingredients:

2 cups of black walnuts, chopped

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup of dark brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Preparation Instructions:

1) Place the nuts in a food processor and process them into small chunks. Add the butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt.

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Process the mixture until it becomes smooth and creamy. Add more butter or brown sugar if necessary (depending on how creamy you like your butter).

Storage: Serve this butter with crackers or bread or place it in a bowl and enjoy it with fresh fruit. This butter will keep in the refrigerator for about one week.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups of nut butter.

Chocolate Covered Black Walnuts

Ingredients:

2 cups of black walnuts

1 cup of dark chocolate chips

2 teaspoons of shortening

1 tablespoon of light corn syrup

1 teaspoon of butter (optional)

1/4 teaspoon of salt (optional)

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Preparation Instructions:

1) Melt the dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave for about 1 minute or until the chocolate is completely melted.

Stir in the 2 teaspoons of shortening and the light corn syrup.

2) Stir in the 1 tablespoon of butter and add 1/4 teaspoon of salt (optional).

3) Spread a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and place the walnuts in a single layer on the parchment paper.

Drizzle the melted dark chocolate over the walnuts and stir gently to coat the walnuts.

4) Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator and allow the chocolate to set for about 15 minutes.

5) Once the chocolate has set, pick off the walnuts that are covered in chocolate and place them back on the parchment paper.

Drizzle additional melted chocolate on the other walnuts to create a nice looking chocolate covered nut.

6) Place the cookie sheet back in the refrigerator and allow the chocolate to completely set (about 10 minutes).

At this point you can either serve the chocolate covered black walnuts or place them in a ziplock bag and store them in a dry cool place.

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Makes about 1 1/2 cups of chocolate covered black walnuts.

Gift Idea: Place a small bag of these delicious chocolate covered black walnuts in a decorative bag or bowl and give them to your friends and family members. They’ll love you for it!

Cinnamon-Raisin Soft Butterscotch candies

1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

1/2 cup of water

4 tablespoons of light brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter

1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon of salt (omit if using salted peanut butter)

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1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

3/4 cup of raisins

1 tablespoon of dark corn syrup

1) Spray a 8 x 8-inch baking pan with a non-stick baking spray.

2) Combine the granulated sugar and water in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.

3) Boil the sugar for about 5 minutes then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture turns a deep golden brown (about 10 minutes more).

4) While the sugar is cooking, combine the light brown sugar, smooth peanut butter, unsalted butter, vanilla, salt (if using), and ground cinnamon in a medium bowl.

5) Add 1/2 cup of the hot sugar mixture to the peanut butter mixture and whisk until smooth.

6) Slowly add the peanut butter mixture back into the hot sugar and whisk until well combined.

7) Remove the sugar from the heat and whisk in the dark corn syrup.

8) Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and let it cool at room temperature until it is firm (about 30 minutes).

9) Use a sharp knife to cut the butterscotch into 1-inch squares.

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Makes about 1 1/2 dozen butterscotch candies.

Gift Idea: Place a few of these delicious candies in small to-go bags and tie them with a ribbon to give as a gift.

Old-fashioned Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1/4 teaspoon of salt (omit if using salted butter)

Colored sugar crystals (red and green)

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2) Combine the softened butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl and cream them together with a hand mixer on medium speed.

3) Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy.

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4) Combine the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt (if using) in another bowl and gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter/egg mixture.

5) Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until it comes together to form a ball.

6) Roll the dough out about 1/4-inch thick and cut out holiday shapes with cookie cutters.

Place the cookies 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

7) Sprinkle the colored sugar crystals on the unbaked cookies.

8) Bake the cookies for 7 minutes or until lightly browned at the edges.

9) Let the cookies cool on baking sheet for about 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 3 dozen.

Gift Idea: Package these up in cellophane bags and tie them with a ribbon.

You’re gonna love my mom’s fruitcake, Moira tells me as she and I walk through the school parking lot after lunch. It’s the best ever.

I smile and nod but am really thinking, I hope you don’t expect me to eat more than a bite of that stuff. My mom has been trying to get me to eat a piece of her fruitcake every year since I can remember, and I’ve been rejecting her efforts for just as long.

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If it’s the best ever, I say, I bet it’s really hard and dry. My mom’s is like that.

I can only imagine how many old dried up fruits and nuts are in there.

Moira laughs. Not this one she says.

My mom puts in a whole bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Now that’s my kind of fruitcake! I say as we part ways to go to our cars.

I open the door to find a folded up piece of notebook paper on the driver’s seat. I immediately feel a cold chill run through my body.

I don’t need to open it to know what it is. It’s a threat from Charley.

I shove it in my backpack and quickly get in line at Moira’s stop. When she gets in, I tell her about the note.

She goes right to Mr. Devine. He tells us the same thing he told me, not to tell anyone else and to just play it cool. He’ll be watching out for us and if he thinks our lives are in danger, he’ll send us away.

All day I am on edge, waiting for someone to jump out from around every corner. I can’t eat dinner that night because my stomach is tied in knots.

Finally I fall asleep trying to will Sunday to come as fast as it can.

Sources & references used in this article:

Current research on reducing pre‐and post‐harvest aflatoxin contamination of US almond, pistachio, and walnut by BC Campbell, RJ Molyneux… – Journal of Toxicology …, 2003 – Taylor & Francis

Pattern of trauma related to walnut harvesting and suggested preventive measures by MM Wani, R Bali, IS Mir… – Clinical Reviews and …, 2013 – academicjournals.org

Walnut production manual by DE Ramos – 1997 – books.google.com

Walnut tree by HI Forde – US Patent App. 05/898,598, 1979 – Google Patents

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