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Walnuts are not only delicious, but also very healthy. Autumn is walnut time again. Then the up to 8 cm long and 5 cm wide fruits can be harvested, eaten fresh or dried. Now it doesn't take long and the first fruits fall to the ground. You just have to collect them. However, there are a few things to consider during harvesting and the subsequent cleaning and drying.

harvest time

Harvest time for walnuts

The ovoid-spherical fruits of the walnut tree have a smooth green shell that becomes brown and cracked as it ripens. Under the green shell are the actual walnuts, as you know them from the trade. They can be harvested from mid-September to the end of October. The fruits are ripe as soon as the outer fleshy shell, around 2 mm thick, cracks and bursts open, releasing the hard nut. Soon the first fruits will fall from the tree. Then they should not remain on the damp ground for too long. The right time to harvest the walnuts has a significant influence on the taste of the fruit as well as subsequent drying and storage.


Harvest Guide

Basically, you should leave walnuts on the tree as long as possible and wait until they fall by themselves. Only then can you be sure that they are fully ripe and have developed their typical nut aroma. Early frosts cannot harm the nuts.

  • never knock the nuts off the tree
  • Injuries to the tree could result
  • the harvest of the following year would also be affected
  • Nuts felled from the tree are not fully ripe
  • lack of maturity, affects the taste
  • Harvest or collect nuts that have already fallen from the tree
  • consistent harvest is particularly important on rainy days
  • search the ground daily for nuts and collect them

To prevent the fruit from rotting and going moldy on the ground, it is advisable to keep any grass growth under the walnut tree short during harvest time. Various pests such as the walnut fruit fly can also become a problem, especially at harvest time. Due to the feeding activity of their larvae, the nut kernel rots and becomes inedible. It is all the more important to check the nuts and sort them out accordingly.

Tip: In order to be able to enjoy freshly harvested nuts, the white, thin skin covering the nut must first be removed, as it tastes very bitter. During drying, the bitter substances are lost with the withdrawal of moisture.

Clean nuts

Before the nuts can be dried, they must be cleaned. First, sick and rotten fruits are sorted out. The soft, green outer skin is then completely removed. This is best done with your hands and removes any residue with a coarse brush. You should never wash the nuts. Moisture and possibly also mold spores could get inside the fruit and spoil it.

Tip: It is advisable to wear gloves to remove the green outer skin. Otherwise, the tannic acid it contains could turn your hands brown.

rubber gloves

Drying instructions

Now you can dry the cleaned nuts. In order to minimize the risk of mold formation during the drying process, the walnuts must dry as quickly as possible.

  • To do this, place the nuts in a single layer in flat boxes, on sieves or grids
  • they should not be on top of each other and should not touch
  • put the whole thing in a dry, airy place, preferably outdoors
  • constant temperatures of 20-25 degrees are optimal for drying
  • Avoid temperatures above 28 degrees
  • bring the nuts into the house overnight
  • put it outside again the next day when the morning haze has cleared

A dry and well-ventilated attic is also suitable for drying. To ensure that the nuts are well aerated from all sides, it is important to turn them several times a day. In addition, sick and moldy nuts must be consistently sorted out. When the drying process is complete, the nuts will have lost about 50% of their original weight.

Tip: Drying in the oven is not recommended. The reason for this is the heat sensitivity of the nuts. At temperatures above 28 degrees, the fat contained in the nuts becomes rancid and the nuts become inedible.

half-opened walnut


Store walnuts properly

The dry walnuts can be stored well in air-permeable sacks and nets, preferably hanging. The bags and nets used should preferably be made of natural fibers and not plastic. The storage location itself should be permanently well ventilated and the humidity should not be too high. The stored goods must be protected from light and direct sunlight. Temperatures between 10 and 18 degrees and a relative humidity of 55-65% are ideal for storage. Walnuts can be stored in this way for at least 1 year.

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