When Are Black Walnuts Ready to Pick & Eat?


The black walnut, also known as Juglans nigra, is a tree that is native to the eastern region of the United States. It is a deciduous tree that can survive in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. It is common practise to cultivate this species for its fruit, just as it is with other walnut species. Although it is simple to determine when a black walnut is ready to be harvested, doing so may be a very dirty procedure.


By applying pressure on the husk, also known as the outer layer, you may determine whether or not a black walnut is ready to be picked. If there is still a depression after it has been removed, then it is ready to be harvested.

Growing the Black Walnut Species

According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, black walnut trees cannot survive in the shadow and must have direct sunlight in order to thrive. They thrive in soil that is rich in organic content, has good drainage, and is moderately wet. When deciding where in your landscape to plant a black walnut tree, it is important to bear in mind that these trees are notoriously difficult to transfer due to the length of their taproots. Be aware as well that the roots of the black walnut tree contain a poison known as juglone, which is capable of causing the death of some kinds of blooming plants as well as crops that are put in close proximity to the tree.

The wind is responsible for pollinating black walnut trees. Even though a black walnut tree is self-fertile, which means that it can produce fruit using its own pollen, the Arbor Day Foundation suggests planting numerous trees for the highest potential yield. This will ensure that the tree has the greatest chance of survival. There is a possibility that young trees may yield some fruit, but it can take a black walnut tree anywhere from 12 to 15 years before it produces a considerable number of nuts.

Harvesting Black Walnuts

There are three distinct layers to the fruit that black walnut trees produce. The outermost layer, known as the husk, has a hue that is between between yellow and green. The inside of the shell is quite dark and black, and it encases a delicious kernel within. If you push on the husk of the fruit and your fingers leave an imprint when you do so, this indicates that the fruit is ready to be eaten, as stated by the Michigan State University Extension.

You may pick walnuts that are low enough to the ground for you to reach off the tree, or you can let them fall to the ground naturally. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, the shell of black walnuts may leave a stain on skin, fabric, and even concrete, thus it is important to use caution while handling these nuts and to wear old clothes and gloves.

It is essential to clean the shells of the walnuts once they have been harvested. You should also examine the black walnuts to see whether or not there are any indications of insect damage. It is recommended by the Michigan State University Extension that the walnuts be placed in a bucket filled with water. Throw away any walnuts that have risen to the surface.

Preparing and Storing Black Walnuts

It has been determined by the Michigan State University Extension that curing walnuts is necessary in order to bring out their full potential in terms of taste. This may be accomplished by keeping the nuts in a single layer for at least two weeks in a location that is both cold and dry. During this period, make sure the walnuts aren’t exposed to direct sunlight. When the process of curing the walnuts is finished, you may put them away in storage until you are ready to utilise them. If the nut’s shell can be cracked open with very little effort, then the nut is ready to be stored.

Place the nuts in an area that has enough air circulation and store them in a bag made of fabric or mesh. When you’re storing black walnuts, be sure the temperature stays below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Soaking the nuts in hot water for a few hours will prepare you to shell them when the time comes. Take into consideration that extracting the flesh from the shell of black walnuts might be a difficult task. It is essential to either refrigerate or freeze the kernel, which contains the edible portion of the nut.