If you are lucky enough to have a walnut* tree in your garden or, perhaps even better, if you know someone who has a walnut tree in their garden (they are pretty large trees after all), now is the time to celebrate.
Well, because this year’s crop is falling out of the sky, it is literally raining walnuts, especially when it rains hard! And really fresh walnuts (also known as wet walnuts) are a treat not to be missed.
The husks split open to reveal the familiar hard nutshell, but inside the shell the nuts are still juicy and fresh i.e. ‘wet’.
The pale, creamy kernels are crunchy, but with a milky, mild, sweet walnut taste and just a hint of a tannic edge that gives walnuts their kick.
They should be enjoyed fresh, rather than cooked since their flavour is currently so delicate. The nuts are easy to open. My son cracks them open with just his hands, but a knife pressed into the crack at the round end works readily, or nut-crackers make light work of them.
Be quick though, because the squirrels have already moved on from hazel nuts and are already nabbing a considerable portion of walnuts …
and there are fewer left every day!
*Here I am referring to the English or Persian walnut (Juglans regia), because other walnuts including the Black walnuts (Juglans nigra) aren’t quite ready yet.
My squirrels are quicker off the mark than yours, I never get a single walnut.. And I have a huge tree.
and fat squirrels! I’ve been told that one trick is to dig a patch of ground , fill with soft compost and wait for the squirrels to bury the nuts there. Then you go out and collect them up. Sounds a bit optimistic ….
Unfortunately, these are not hardy here. It would be wonderful if they were!
I believe that the chinese walnut (Juglans mandshurica) is hardy down to roughly -40 degrees Celsius. They are pretty trees, with great catkins but the nuts are v. small.
We have a native shagbark hickory, which has smaller nuts with an enhanced walnut flavor, but they are nearly impossible to separate from the shell, so it’s mostly wildlife that consumes them. Tasty, but too much work!
I’m not a nut fan but your beautiful photos make walnuts look delicious! How long did it take for your tree to produce the walnuts? I know with my fruit trees it takes a few years for them to settle in and produce a good crop
My walnut (grown from seed) took a good while to crop. Can’t remember exactly when I put it in the ground (I kept it potted for a while) but about 8-10 years from then. Grafted stock is what you want for early crop (3-4 yrs).
What a good harvest. Ours tend to be splitting as they fall, even have tiny roots and the squirrels always get the best ones despite the dogs’ protests. I think our two can spell ‘squirrel’, have taken to calling them rats with long tails to keep the peace! The few we do get are delicious though.