Walnut Foraging 2019

Posted by Marina Milette-Morin on October 24, 2019 · 3 mins read

We’re harvesting black walnuts from the trees in Ottawa.

❔ What’s up with Walnuts?

Black walnut trees are abundant in our neighbourhood. They are mostly quite tall and old, with many properties containing multiple trees. Most houses consider them annoyances, since they drop their fruit aggressively, denting cars, staining sidewalks, and attacking those who walk beneath them on a windy day. Most of our neighbours are happy to let us pick up the fallen fruits, since they need to be gathered up and disposed of in yard waste. The rinds aren’t even good for compost, as large amounts of tannin can harm some plants.

These walnuts taste kind of like paint thinner. They’re very good for you, but definitely an aquired taste.

A bag of green walnut fruits
A bag of unprocessed walnuts
A black walnut cracked open
The inside of a black walnut

🌳 Harvesting

Harvesting the walnuts is pretty time consuming. We usually split it up so that one person is collecting them, and the other is quickly and roughly processing them.

A woman picking up walnuts from the side of a street
Smushing the walnuts in the street
A woman dropping walnut rinds into a tall paper bag
Dumping the rinds into yard waste bags

The person processing the fruits steps on them, then pries them apart to pull out the center nut. Toss the core into a bucket and the rind into a yard waste bag. I definitely recommend wearing plastic gloves and clothes you don’t mind getting stained.

💧 Processing

We put all our walnuts into a bucket, filled it with water, and stirred vigorously. After dumping and refilling the water a few times, the walnuts came out significantly cleaner.

A wicker basket lined with a paper bag, partially filled with walnuts
A basket of walnuts
A few walnuts in a bucket of water, with a stirring stick
Washing some walnuts

We put our nuts in cardboard boxes in shallow layers and left them in a garage over the winter. Unfortunately, squirrels stole most of them, so we’ll have to find a better solution for 2020.