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Steve Nix

How Long Can You Store Black Walnuts?

By September 30, 2009

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A Walnut Harvest

Question: Could you please tell me if walnuts are still good after being left in the clean shell for a year. We picked them last year, husked them and left to dry for two weeks in the shell but have left them all year. We need to know if we should throw them out or shell them and use them. Your answer will make a big difference and be a great help. - Pam K.

Answer: Funny you asked that. I just threw away a bucket of walnuts that had been in my storage room since last season. I was thinking that very same thing. Here was how I made my decision: my walnuts were stored in an outside shed exposed to both freezing, high temps and potential insect and disease infestation. I didn't even sample one and tossed the whole batch (along with the work I put into removing the husks).

You will probably be ok if you had them stored in a secure climate-controlled environment or had them frozen after they dried. Storage conditions and the time the nuts spends in that environment is important. A quick test would be to crack one and test by taste and smell. Any off flavors will be immediately noticed and the nuts should be discarded.

Husked Walnuts - Steve Nix Photo


October 5, 2009 at 4:17 am
(1) Ilyan says:

Hi Steve
You should have tested before throwing. Hope you threw to the compost heap not the trash. If so put them in a pot to see.

My out of date Dirr says for J.nigra “Fall plant or three to four months cold stratification”. and for J.Regia is says “Fall plant or one to five months cold stratification, the cold requirement is probably considerably lower than that of J. nigra.” That ‘considerably lower’ is a bit ambiguous.

The excellent book “Whence our Trees” by Scott Leathart (British)tell me that Black Walnuts come from the eastern half of the USA and Canada, so I would expect it to be well able to stand any amount of cold.

If you do not periodically heat the shed to work in, so started germination that then froze there might be a chance they will grow.

October 5, 2009 at 6:08 pm
(2) forestry says:

You are exactly right! I actually let the nuts do their natural thing by crudely exposing to heat, cold and pests. I wrote the blog from the perspective of a consumer – would I go to the trouble of shelling to eat the nut? I would not.

October 5, 2009 at 2:50 pm
(3) Greg says:

I have a five gallon bucket of dehusked walnuts from the 2008 harvest. Most of them are still good. However, since it is now time for the 2009 harvest, I will throw these into the woods for the squirrels to eat. They (squirrels) will also “plant” some of them, which will sprout in the spring.

December 3, 2011 at 9:00 pm
(4) Ed says:

I have been shelling black walnuts these past few days.
I average about 9 oz. of ready to eat meat per hour of cracking the shells open with a #10(inch) visegrips.
Best method I have found.

I also have black walnuts in my garden from 2008 and took a dozen last week and opened all of them. All were good except one which was dried out.
I live in Michigan by the way.
I still have over a banana box full from 2008 along with the equivalent of 6 banana boxes full from one tree from the 2011 season.

September 12, 2013 at 11:57 am
(5) penni says:

I have a case of black walnuts from my grand fathers Kansas farm from 2009!!! Still intak…might they still be safe to eat?? We have begun to shell them, and they taste fine…just a bit unsure. Any suggestions here?

September 30, 2013 at 1:44 pm
(6) Robert m Steffy says:

I have opened black walnuts that were stored for over 2 years, most were still good to eat. I have gathered over1200 this year so far.

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