Black Walnut harvesting methods

southpaw

southpaw

I react 2 B Venom
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Jun 5, 2009
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392
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central wisconsin
Going over this coming season's tools and equipment for the garden season coming up an came across my old Black Walnut jig

It's simply a 2" block of square steel with a pattern milled out to accept a black walnut , have drilled five 1/4" holes thru the bottom to knock out the stuck shell pieces

Process goes like this , put Walnut in fixture , hit walnut with a 3 lb. hammer and eject pieces into a container ......will crack a few dozen then goes thru the long and painful process of using a diagonal cutter to break the rest of shell to get nut pieces out , sounds like a lot of work for very little and that is for sure as last year did not bother an let the squirrels have them , when I do harvest them the flesh is put in 1/4 lb. vacuum sealed bags and right now I am eating my last bag from 2019 harvest

Most I ever harvested in one season is about 3lbs. of walnut flesh an that took many hours, need to come up with a more efficient way to process these things this year so looking for different ideas from like minded people who harvest these nuts........one of my ideas is to make use of the log splitter and fashion up some type of fixture out of railroad plates , for certain yet but tossing ideas around

Will post a picture of my current fixture if any one is interested but don't think there are a lot of people that bother with these .......for those who have never tried to shell a Black Walnut I can give you an idea how tough they are , put a few on concrete and drive over them with your truck and you probably will not break any open that is how strong that shell is but a squirrel can rip right thru them in seconds
 
djg james

djg james

ArboristSite Guru
Joined
Feb 25, 2020
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IL
Going over this coming season's tools and equipment for the garden season coming up an came across my old Black Walnut jig

It's simply a 2" block of square steel with a pattern milled out to accept a black walnut , have drilled five 1/4" holes thru the bottom to knock out the stuck shell pieces

Process goes like this , put Walnut in fixture , hit walnut with a 3 lb. hammer and eject pieces into a container ......will crack a few dozen then goes thru the long and painful process of using a diagonal cutter to break the rest of shell to get nut pieces out , sounds like a lot of work for very little and that is for sure as last year did not bother an let the squirrels have them , when I do harvest them the flesh is put in 1/4 lb. vacuum sealed bags and right now I am eating my last bag from 2019 harvest

Most I ever harvested in one season is about 3lbs. of walnut flesh an that took many hours, need to come up with a more efficient way to process these things this year so looking for different ideas from like minded people who harvest these nuts........one of my ideas is to make use of the log splitter and fashion up some type of fixture out of railroad plates , for certain yet but tossing ideas around

Will post a picture of my current fixture if any one is interested but don't think there are a lot of people that bother with these .......for those who have never tried to shell a Black Walnut I can give you an idea how tough they are , put a few on concrete and drive over them with your truck and you probably will not break any open that is how strong that shell is but a squirrel can rip right thru them in seconds
I would like to see your current setup and any future ideas. Every year I pick up a 5 gallon bucket only to end up feeding them to the squirrels. I can't believe my Mom would spend evenings picking through the hulls that Dad had cracked with a hammer only to make us kids cookies. They didn't have store bought nuts back then or they were too expensive for a large family. I miss the cookies and I wanted to try making ice cream.

I guess it would work on Hickory nuts, too.
 
sonny580

sonny580

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279
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Illinois
We have a iron cracker that works great ---has gears on it so you can control the pressure and I have gotten a perfect half many times with it.
Yes the nuts are a TON of work but sure tasty!! LOL!!
 
southpaw

southpaw

I react 2 B Venom
Joined
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Messages
392
Location
central wisconsin
This is deal right here, it works good but the process is slow

When you get the outer husk off the Walnut put them in a bucket of water, the ones that float do not have any meat in them and toss them for the squirrels
 

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southpaw

southpaw

I react 2 B Venom
Joined
Jun 5, 2009
Messages
392
Location
central wisconsin
I would like to see your current setup and any future ideas. Every year I pick up a 5 gallon bucket only to end up feeding them to the squirrels. I can't believe my Mom would spend evenings picking through the hulls that Dad had cracked with a hammer only to make us kids cookies. They didn't have store bought nuts back then or they were too expensive for a large family. I miss the cookies and I wanted to try making ice cream.

I guess it would work on Hickory nuts, too.
Primarily I am harvesting these because they are full of antioxidants and full of great nutrients , they help lower Lipoprotein ( LDL bad cholesterol ) and got a lot of other amazing things that help maintain health, as far as the taste goes they are much different than the typical English walnut and either one is ok with me , I think the English Walnuts starts to go rancid fairly quick and takes on a funky taste

I use the husks and make a simple brine with to it soak my feet as it rids bacteria from the skin and makes feet feel good , only do this a couple times a year and it will turn your skin real dark but wears off in a week or so , the Juglone in the walnut is toxic so a heads up on that

Walmart actually sell these but the prices are crazy , like $20 for 4oz. or some insane price like that
 
Ash_403

Ash_403

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323
Location
S central Indiana
Nice setup. I'll tell you what I use.
I didn't gather or process any last year, but did the two years prior. First year of it I filled two 1-quart ziplock bags with nutmeat. The second year only about 1 quart.

I try to gather the nuts, freshly fallen. I like to avoid overly-black decaying hulls.
Roll the hull-still-on black walnuts over concrete, holding a 2X10 (cut about 20" length or so). Drop hulled nut in a 5-gallon bucket of water. Correct, the bad ones (no meat) do float. I then allow the hulled nuts to dry. Keep them in a cage or wire bin of some kind or the squirrels will steel them. (I use an empty live-animal trap. Just what I have that works.) Leave outside under shelter to dry. Then move them inside in a few weeks or so, if you want.

After a few months (for me, it's usually around Thanksgiving week), I crack the shells using a 6-inch bench vice. I mounted my vice to a fabbed 2x4 stand so it's comfortable for me to use while sitting on the couch. One hand operates the vice, the other 'cups' the black walnut. Many take enough force that the nut almost explodes, so I do this to cut down on shrapnel. Crack any remaining pieces further, if needed.
I don't use side-cuts, but that may be due to the thick shells of the black walnuts in my area. (Mom's neighbor has a few older trees, and the two older black walnut trees that I have (going on year 12) just started producing nuts two years ago. They all have the thicker shells. A co-worker of mine that lives a few counties East of me, has some on his farm. His have noticeably thinner shells. But the nuts are also smaller diameter.

Since I sat out last year, I'm going to make an effort to get some processed this year. Actually looking forward to it.
 
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