How to Crack Black Walnuts

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, November 9, 1911: Nothing to write.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

A few weeks ago Grandma mentioned hulling walnuts. At that time I gathered some black walnuts and hulled them. I then spread them out to dry. My husband I have now cracked some of them and taken the nut meats out.

We put them into a vice to crack them–and had problems with the walnuts flying all over the garage.

We then covered the walnuts with a piece of cloth before cracking. This worked really well at containing everything. Once the shell was cracked it was easy to get the nuts out.

The walnuts tasted great–just like I’d remembered from my childhood. The flavor is more intense than grocery store walnuts–but it is really good.

Hulling Black Walnuts

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, October 7, 1911: Hulled some walnuts this afternoon. Tried to be careful of my hands, but they got stained somewhat.

Black Walnuts

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Black walnuts grow semi-wild in Pennsylvania–and across much of the US.

The hull is the outer  husk. It must be removed to prevent spoilage. The nuts are then dried. After they are dried they can be cracked.

Crack hulls with feet. Then use hands to remove.

Last week-end my husband and I gathered some black walnuts at a park. We took them home and hulled them. We put the nuts in an old net onion bag and hung them in the garage to dry. They’ll be ready to crack and eat by December.

Walnut stains on my hands. This is one powerful stain. Three days later my hands are still brown, and everyone at work is teasing me about being an auto mechanic. (Bottom line: Wear gloves when hulling walnuts.)

Oct. 15 Addendum: I mentioned putting the walnuts in a net onion bag to my father. He was horrified and said that they would mold. He said they should be spread out on newspapers in a cool dry place (an attic is ideal).  So I checked my walnuts and noticed that two of them had a spot of mold of them. I discarded those walnuts–and spread the rest out on newspapers to dry.  Stay tuned . . .

Nov. 9 Addendum: I’ve now successfully cracked some black walnuts. Click here for today’s post on How to Crack Black Walnuts.

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