To pickle walnuts

Our Tasmanian climate is perfect for many nuts and grand trees. Around this time one year ago, a friend gifted me a couple of handfuls of green walnuts and I pickled them successfully but kept no record of how I made this happen. 

I have been asked what a green walnut is. This is the complete walnut package. If left on the tree the green outer coating falls away and the next layer hardens as a wooden casing to hold the nut we all love do dearly.  So a green walnut is comprised of three layers and the complete unit is used for pickling.

Yesterday I moved under my friend’s expansive walnut tree and we picked green walnuts from the lower branches. Those that were blown off in recent rough winds can be considered runts and/or may have picked up some bacteria or insects while on the ground, so clearly the task is to pick them fresh, and not believe a few from the ground will be okay.

Today, after checking the internet for a process, my past experience came back to me. 

The ingredients for stage one are water and salt to make brine. In addition to a ceramic or glass container (not metal), essential equipment is a metal skewer and a pair of rubbers gloves.

Alerts all over the internet insist gloves are essential because the juices from the raw walnut will discolour your hands for months. Last time I remember my rubber gloves eventually wore out and were still discoloured to the level of the first day.  After processing half a dozen walnuts today my gloves looked like those in the first photo and the second photo shows the intensity of the yellow brown stain by the time I had pierced two dozen walnuts. 

So be warned: if you are going to pickle walnuts then please protect your hands.

What do you have to do?

Pour salt into your container, add water and dissolve.

With rubber gloves on, use your sharp pointed skewer to pierce holes in each walnut.

I jabbed up to twelve holes around each.  The walnuts are firm but soft enough for you to accidentally pierce straight through, so be careful not to slash your protective gloves. 

Once the walnuts are bathing in the salt solution they need to rest for around 8 days, during which time some fermentation takes place and they begin to turn black. Mine have gone to the laundry to be out of the way and not in direct sunlight. I will be stirring them each day so I can be sure the brine is penetrating through each hole.  I may even freshen up the brine if it looks dodgy.

Stage one is easy and the slowest part is piercing the holes.

Stage two starts after the 8 eight days. I will add a new blog post to show that process.

If you are fortunate to have access to a walnut tree and can pick some green walnuts now, then go to it so you are ready for stage two next week.

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