How Long Can You Store Black Walnuts?

A Walnut Harvest

A Quick Reply to a Black Walnut Question

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.

My 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.

Additional Curing, Storage and Shelling Information

Black walnuts will have a storage advantage when cured. Curing allows the walnut to develop deep flavor and will increase storage life.

Curing black walnuts is an extra step that will take more time but will be worth the effort to preserve the nut-in-shell over time.

To cure the walnut - simply distribute the cleaned and hulled nuts in a layer of several nuts deep on cool, dry concrete, well-ventilated and shaded area for several weeks.

The nut is ready to store when the kernel breaks crisply and with a snap.

When the curing process presents you with a tasty, crisp nut meat, store the cured, cleaned unshelled nuts under well-ventilated but cool conditions. The preferred storage temperature should be 60°F or less the relative humidity should be fairly high and around 70%. When walnut shells are stored under dry conditions, they tend to crack exposing the kernels to an environment conducive for spoilage. Use breathable cloth bags, burlap bags, wire baskets or any container that will allow for proper air circulation and discourage the development of rot bacteria and mold.

To make the process of shelling the nuts easier, you should moisten them. The moisture will help to keep the kernels intact and will reduce nut breakage. Soak the walnuts in hot (but not boiling) water for several hours. Some sources suggest and additional drain and repeat of the hot water soak. Keep the nuts moist  until you're ready to crack the shells.

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Nix, Steve. "How Long Can You Store Black Walnuts?" ThoughtCo, May. 9, 2016, thoughtco.com/how-long-to-store-black-walnuts-3971248. Nix, Steve. (2016, May 9). How Long Can You Store Black Walnuts? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-long-to-store-black-walnuts-3971248 Nix, Steve. "How Long Can You Store Black Walnuts?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-long-to-store-black-walnuts-3971248 (accessed January 20, 2018).