Wednesday 18 December 2019

Walnuts, pickled and otherwise

We have a substantial walnut tree which crops abundantly, though not every year. The main way we take advantage of this largess is to store the nuts in the garage and periodically shell batches of them, enough to fill a jar. This keeps me going with a small handful added to my porridge every morning from September to March, as well as for cake decorating and the like. 

The shelled walnuts need to be kept in the fridge otherwise the oil in the nuts will eventually turn rancid. We have tried other ways to store walnuts, including drying in a low oven and using a dehydrator but this way seems to work best. 

The other thing we do is to pickle walnuts, a traditional Christmas-time accompaniment. Angela, the noted designer of Nativity play costumes, among many other accomplishments, spotted pickled walnuts among my list of preserves yesterday, and asked how to pickle them. Here is what we do which works very well for us. We can't remember where we sourced the recipe but we can vouch for its efficacy.

The key thing is to use immature walnut fruits that are still green, before the hard nut has developed. For us this is sometime in June. A pin can be used to test to see if the inside is still soft. 


  • 225g salt
  • 1 litre malt vinegar
  • 500g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger


  1. Prick the walnuts with a fork and cover with water and the salt.
  2. Leave for a week, then drain and renew with a fresh brine solution for another week.
  3. Drain the walnuts and lay out on trays in a dry, airy place. After a few days they will have turned black.
  4. Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan. Bring them to the boil, add the walnuts and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool and spoon the nuts into large jars and cover with the liquid.
  5. Leave for a year. 
A jar of pickled walnuts opened today


  1. The most revolting things in the world!!......possibly.....

  2. You have got patience Philip. A year is a long time to wait. I am sure it's worth it though.

  3. What an interesting, old fashioned method. I would love to taste such a strange concoction! Unfortunately, we don't have a walnut tree in Seattle, but when I have leftovers from baking I make crispy honey walnuts in the oven. They keep well are wonderful with cheese, salad and wine. Very easy. I posted the recipe on Feathers and Flowers this morning.

  4. Thanks Sue. I like the look of your recipe.

  5. I hope they turn out for you, the only tricky part is keeping them from scorching, as they go from brown to black quickly. They are addictive- my husband keeps raiding the jar!