Walnuts : : A Tough Nut to Crack


The walnut harvest is upon us. I can’t remember how many walnut trees we have, but there’s a bunch of them out there. All in varying degrees of maturity and health. All in all, we’ve been getting around four full grocery bags of walnuts every year. We eat the vast majority of them, give some away and send some to our children’s school for their walnut cracking activity.

My dad and his siblings grew up on a farm with a large walnut orchard. He and his brother and sisters always had to help with the walnut harvest each fall. One time when my dad came to visit he asked how the walnuts were, picked one up, put it between his two palms and cracked it’s hard shell open with his bare hands! Oy! As for Scott and I? We use hammers to open them.

After you harvest them out of their hull, you need to let the walnuts dry for about two weeks before boxing or bagging them up, otherwise they’ll rot. Don’t ask me how I know this. With all these trees worth of walnuts, this takes a huge amount of space, so you’ll find all our outside tables and the floor of our garage covered at this time of year. After a few weeks, we bag them up and wait for a quiet day when we can all sit around and crack them.

Walnuts are super healthy for you, full of mono-unsaturated fats, Vitamin E, Omega-3 oil and all sorts of other good things your body needs. We use them in cookies, for eating plain, in salads, banana breads and granola. Sometimes I carmelize them with maple syrup in the cast iron skillet for snacks. They all get used eventually. This year I want to experiment with making a walnut butter out of them. We go through so much almond butter, I wonder if this would make a good substitute. Has anyone tried making their own walnut butter before? Maybe walnut milk?


Filed under just picked

8 responses to “Walnuts : : A Tough Nut to Crack

  1. I used to make Walnut Butter. I just chopped the nuts, toasted them lightly, then ground them. I didn’t have a food processor at the time, so I used my blender. I haven’t made it in years, but now that you mention it, what a good idea–it would be fantastic on crostini with a bit of fig or olive!

  2. I learned yesterday that if you let walnuts age in the shell for a year, they are much sweeter.

  3. Jennifer

    Good Morning~ we live in upper California near the Oregon border. Walnuts are scarce here. Hubby and I love them and have been buying them at Costco, that is until the price doubled in price. So now we wait for the hispanic farmers to travel thru and we buy them in the shell. I actually enjoy sitting and cracking and picking the walnuts, gives me a chance to sit down and enjoy my yard. Always enjoy your teachings, Always! Good day to you and your family. 😀

  4. Sue Gaynor

    What is the easiest way to “gather” walnuts? Iwant to rake them up and sort out bad ones later while sitting comfortably. My husband says they must be gathered one by one by a person bending over the whole time. Kids would be great at this but we don’t have any the right age so I know it will be me and my 50 year old back and knees doing the job. Any suggestions?

    • asonomagarden

      Sue, I wish I had a better answer for you than bending down to pick them up. Often times I pluck them off the tree when the hull has opened, which makes for less strenuous harvesting, but then I only get the walnuts within my reach and not way up top.

  5. Dale

    Walnut butter sounds delicious! If you find a good recipe, please would you post it? I’m always on the lookout for lunch-sandwich alternatives to processed meat. Thank you for your blog–I look forward to each new installment.

  6. Shirley

    We are new to Sonoma and still experimenting with nuts, grapes, blackberrries, figs,, etc. ;Your blog is extremely valuable to me.


  7. We used to make a sweet walnut butter with a little maple syrup that even I, a lifelong walnut hater, would eat. I haven’t made it in a long time, but I do remember having trouble with it separating very easily in the food processor. My family really likes walnut milk, but I’m not a fan.

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