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If there is an older walnut tree in the garden, 25 to 55 kilograms of walnuts are quickly produced when harvested from a good location. Given these quantities of nuts, the question is where to put them? Giving away is one option, the other is storing. In order for the walnut to keep for a long time, it must be dried before storage. The nuts can keep for up to three years.

harvest tree nuts

Tree nuts are not picked, but collected. Since only fully ripe tree nuts should be used for drying and storage, you have to pay attention to the right time when harvesting. According to the calendar, this is the period between mid-September and the end of October. Specifically, the nuts are collected when they are lying on the ground under the walnut tree, because then they are fully ripe. Under no circumstances should you shake them off the tree or even pick them, because they are not yet fully ripe. If the first specimens fall from the tree, you should harvest them every day. If you lie in the damp grass for too long, mold will quickly develop and the nuts will become inedible.

If the tree nuts don't fall on the lawn, you should still harvest them quickly, since rain, dew and frost also lead to mold growth. You don't have to worry if the walnuts are still hanging on the tree. Because in this case they are not harmed by frost and rain.


Once the tree nuts have been collected, they must be prepared quickly for drying to prevent mold from forming. Therefore, it is best if you treat the walnut as soon as it is collected. The first priority here is cleaning. It is best to use a brush and your fingers to remove any remaining peel. Washing off the nuts is viewed differently in the non-commercial sector. As a rule, this is not recommended, since moisture can penetrate the walnut with the water and the risk of rot or mold growth increases. If the walnut is nevertheless to be washed, this should only be done briefly and without pressure so that moisture cannot penetrate. You also need to dry the walnut with paper towels or clean towels after washing.

tip: You should wear gloves to prevent hands and fingers from being discolored by the tannins in the walnuts. Since the tanning agents cannot be removed from clothing either, you should also protect them.

If the walnuts are free of green, brown and black shell remains, then you should check them. This is to ensure that no diseased, rotten or moldy specimens are dried and healthy ones are not infected. Discard any walnuts that have any of the following characteristics:

  • open (slightly open)
  • moldy
  • black spots
  • wrinkled

If the nuts to be dried are now set, they are placed on a suitable surface, such as:

  • several layers of (newspaper) paper, only the black and white parts
  • spread cotton or linen towels
  • old towels
  • cloths stretched on a frame (possible to stack)
  • Line fruit crates with newspaper if necessary
  • fine mesh screens
  • grates
  • wire-covered frames

The walnuts are placed in a single layer. Also, they must not touch each other. At the beginning of the drying period, the walnuts are turned once or twice a day. Turning takes place every two to three days during the drying period. When turning, also check whether mold has formed, as these specimens must be sorted out. If the pad is damp, you should replace it with a dry one.

places to store

In addition to the right base, the place where the drying process takes place also plays an important role. It should have the following properties:

  • uniform temperature between 20 °C and 23 °C
  • dry
  • airy

Attics or boiler rooms usually have these ideal conditions. In principle, living rooms are also an option if you have the necessary space, because the drying process extends over several weeks. Drying outside should autumn bring warm days is possible, but involves a lot of effort. Because the walnut has to spend the night in a dry room, so that the subsequent moisture does not destroy the drying process, or mold forms due to moisture. There is also a risk that the maximum drying temperature (25 °C) will quickly be exceeded by the autumn sun.

Exceeding the ideal drying temperature is also the reason why the oven, the microwave or a dehydrator are not suitable for drying. Because if the temperature is exceeded, the nuts will go rancid. Drying over the heater is also not recommended for this reason.

duration of the drying process

How long the drying process takes depends on the weather. If the summer was warm and the weather was dry at harvest, then you should count on two to three weeks. After a wet summer and rainfall during harvest, the drying process takes three to six weeks. If you are unsure whether the walnuts are already dry, it is better to wait.

tip: The walnuts are really dry when their membranes crack when opened.

To store

So that you can enjoy the dried nuts for a long time, they must be stored properly. Depending on the fat content, you can store walnuts for 18 to 24 months. For a minimum storage time of 12 months without loss of quality, the storage location should have the following properties:

  • Temperature: 10°C to 18°C
  • Humidity: 50 to 65 percent (= normal living conditions)
  • well ventilated
  • no smelly food or cleaning products or chemicals in the area (nuts absorb the smell and no longer taste good.)
  • The following are suitable for storing dried nuts:
  • Onion bags (Raschel bags)
  • potato sacks
  • jute bags
  • Fruit or potato rack (wooden stacking boxes)
  • woven baskets

It is important that sacks or boxes are breathable. Therefore, plastic bags or containers are not suitable for storage. If possible, hang up the sack so that the nuts can breathe on all sides during storage. This also keeps mice away from the tree nuts.

Control of walnuts

In order to detect pest infestation and mold growth on the nuts, you must check the nuts before storage and regularly during the storage period. Sort out all damaged and opened copies before storing. Because the dried fruit moth likes to move into these. During the storage period, you should also check for mold growth. Because when mold occurs, even as a late infection, fungal toxins (mycotoxins) can form. Aflatoxin is particularly dangerous. It is considered carcinogenic and damages the liver and kidneys.


If it is a small amount that needs to be stored, you can also freeze the walnuts. If frozen with the skin on, they will keep in the freezer for 18 to 36 months. However, they need less space if you shell and freeze the walnuts immediately after drying. The nut halves or chopped nuts will keep for six to twelve months. Finely ground walnuts should not be frozen because they quickly lose their taste.

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