How do I remove the hulls from Black Walnuts?

If black walnuts are left in the hull/husk (the softer, green to brown outer shell) they will mold. The hull needs to be removed. If you leave them in the hull too long after they fall off of the tree, they will transfer color and flavor to the nut meat.  You need to remove the hulls as soon as possible.  For the homeowner to remove the hull, there are a couple ways other than your hands. If you have a gravel driveway, you can spread them out on the driveway and leave them for a week. The driving back and forth on them will remove the hull and should not damage too many. If you have an old fashioned, hand operated corn sheller, it can be used to remove the hull with a little adjustment. The only other home method that I am aware of is to put them in the grass and roll them under your foot one by one, but this does take a long time.

In larger operations, they have mechanical devices to do this. One website that has these is http://www.cobjon.com/crops.html#huller.  There is an engineer in Indiana that makes smaller ones that will remove the hulls from a pickup load in 3 hours or so.  His name is Wilbur Schmidt. His walnut huller makes the job of hulling black walnuts much more enjoyable and it really works well not to pricey.  Should you have any questions, you may reach him at (219) 562-3841. 

After the husk has been removed, the nuts need to be dried prior to eating for at least 2 months for good flavor. This means that they need to be placed somewhere with good air circulation. If this is not done, i.e. you put them in a grocery sack, they will mold. Something that works good is mesh potato or onion sacks. A wire basket works, or spread out on a screen.

Last but not least, you will need to crack them. There are several crackers on the market that will crack black walnuts, but if it is not advertised as such it probably will not. Also, many black walnuts that have grown up as seedlings (not grafted, named varieties) will not have much nut meat inside and may be difficult to remove. If you have to crack them with a hammer, you may end up smashing them.  A couple different crackers are located on the Nut Cracker page. 

All in all, many people love black walnuts for their unique flavor and put up with all the above to eat them. If you think this is difficult, try butternuts some time.

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