Friday 2 November 2018


An abundant crop of walnuts this year, probably benefiting from the long hot summer. We have a very large walnut tree, as high as a house. We also have a smaller tree about ten feet high. I’m not sure if it was planted or whether it has self seeded. The latter is very likely nearer the mark as we watch squirrels going back and forth along the fence line collecting the nuts and no doubt burying them for later. There’s plenty to go round for all of us.

We pickled some back in June when they were still green and before the shells become hard. They’re sitting in the cupboard preparing for Christmas 2019.

We have found that the best way of harvesting the mature walnuts is to collect them up as soon as possible after they drop. To this end, my wife Janet (a meticulous walnut collector) has been out collecting fresh falls of nuts twice a day for the last few weeks.

A large amount of nuts have been shelled, dried, and then placed into Kilner jars and stored in the fridge. We have dried them in a low oven but now use a dehydrator. Eventually walnuts, despite drying, are likely to turn rancid because of the constituent oil going off. In the past, shelled nuts kept at room temperature lasted until about January.  Unshelled walnuts kept in the garage were still okay when shelled in March.

Our walnut harvest has gone into ever popular coffee and walnut cake, of course. I also have a handful a day added to my morning porridge. Perhaps a few more later in the day when I get milk from the fridge. Maybe when I put the milk back, too.

This morning's portion

Another thing about walnut trees is that the smell of their leaves is one of the most glorious foliage smells to be found. It is most distinctive: citrusy and aromatic. Its enough to lift your spirits. It’s probably a bit late in the year now, but if your on familiar terms with a walnut tree, give the foliage a stroke next year.


  1. I didn't know that about the foliage. Thank you for the comment on my walnut Post!

  2. We have also had a good crop of walnuts this year but we've never shelled and dried them, we just eat them as we feel like it. Some are black and bad inside, but the majority are fine. We've already given loads away to friend and relatives and still have plenty left for ourselves. Strangely, unlike last year when there was a good crop that the squirrels took (all of them!) this year they've not been taking them, and we don't know why?
    I wonder, if like us, you've ever trodden the husk of the walnuts into the house? We always try and keep those outside, removing shoes at the door in case we've trodden in them, but on one occasion I forgot and trod husk through the kitchen and into the sitting room. The yellow stains were so bad we claimed on our insurance for a new carpet. The assessor who came tried to remove the stains but, of course, he couldn't, and we had a new carpet. We've been very vigilant since then! I love the scent of the leaves, though, it's lovely, and I love the pale pink-tinged young leaves as they emerge at the end of May/early June. Yes, the scent of the foliage lifts your spirits.
    Margaret P

  3. We’ve had years, Margaret, when the rather industrious squirrels seem to have taken the lot. Maybe these are the times when the walnuts are less abundant. Yes, they do stain and gloves are needed when harvesting in any quantity. Our route in and out of the house is through a ‘utility room’ which is where footwear is removed so carpet disasters are avoided. Bits of straw or leaves, which cling to my socks and which somehow infiltrate into my wellingtons, do manage to find their way in as is frequently pointed out to me.

  4. It's lovely to share walnut-tree news, Philip. We have lived in our house for almost 33 years and we have had some wonderful crops and some years with no walnuts at all. Our tree is huge and in a small back garden. When we came here the tree surgeon we engaged said it was possibly 150 years old, so it's now about 180 years old. It will need a bit of pruning in the new year. But it's a lovely tree and gives us much-needed shade in the summer - we could not sit in our back garden without the wonderful shade it gives. And aren't the walnuts delicious? Smaller than those in the shops, but truly delicious.
    I envy you living in Suffolk - we love your county (we love where we live, too, of course!) but haven't visited for over a decade. It's a long journey for us (by car) from South Devon so if we ever drive to Suffolk again, then it would be in 100 mile stages, B&B en route.
    Margaret P