This year, I have discovered the hidden blessing of having a black walnut tree, or a few in my back yard. In September, the shelves were fairly bare in our local stores, and our closest Walmart didn't have any canned corn or green beans. So I started to think about finding food, in my yard. Those annoying walnuts could be useful, who knew, and I love learning a new skill. So I had the kids help me pick up all those annoying green stinky golf balls. We filled several 5 gallon buckets. But that is where my knowledge ended, so I put a lid on them so the squirrels didn't run off with my jackpot and turned to YouTube university for answers on how to process them.
There are several tutorial videos out there and the most useful ones I found involved fewer tools and props and kept it simple. Some trial and lots of error and I found a quick way to remove the husk, but it was messy.
Tools you're going to need:
Big black trash bags
5 gallon bucket
Shoes you don't mind being dyed
a pressure washer (quick) or a strong hose nozzle (slower)
Warning: the husk of the walnut will dye anything it comes into contact with. My hands were an odd shade of brown for several days afterwards. However if you need to stain any wood, the husks make a natural wood stain which looks beautiful. You can also use it to make dye for your kids to use with a feather quill pen. Super fun and it doesn't take much at all.
To start out, get a chair and some friends because this will take awhile. You just crush the husk with your foot a little bit to make it split. This was easiest for me out on my gravel driveway.
Pull the husk apart and discard in a plastic bag.
Put the rather messy shelled nuts into a 5 gallon bucket for cleaning
Use a pressure washer to wash off the nuts in the bucket. This took me 2-3 washes to get all of the black husk material off the shell.
Drain the black water somewhere you don't want things to grow. I dumped it in my gravel as a natural weed suppressant.
I let the nuts dry out in the shell for two weeks. To do this I used a collapsible mesh laundry basket. I hung in in my mud room and every time I passed by gave it a shake to move them around so that all were exposed to the air to dry.
The bag of husks can be disposed of somewhere out of the way where you want to control weeds. I scattered them on the edges of my lawn to keep the vines and privet from crowding into my yard. They have tannins which suppresses plants from growing and it can be a useful byproduct.