Monday, 4 July 2011

Green Walnuts

It’s always best to leave most of the walnuts until they ripen, in the traditional way. They will keep for half a year or longer in their shells as long as you keep them in a cool dry place. We used them to make chocolate brownies, lots of other cakes and a very healthy trail mix.
A Ripe Walnut, Ready to Drop
Everything about Walnuts seems to require an unfeasibly large reservoir of patience. If you pickle them now, it is a three week process and then they should be ready in six months, just in time for Xmas. If you make Walnut Schnapps, it should be ready in about a year (or five). So it may be a nice present for Xmas next year at best.
Good Things (Walnut Schnapps) Come To Those Who Wait
 You can make Pickled Green Walnuts from the unripe fruit, preferably around June, as long as the hard nut has not yet formed. They are known as the King of Pickles. I don’t know why this is; I made some last year and they were not even vaguely princely. Always wear rubber gloves when preparing green walnuts otherwise the juice, which is a natural dye, will stain your hands and clothes brown.
Green Walnuts - They Smell Exotic Too

1.8kg fresh young walnuts
215g salt
950ml malt vinegar
470g packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon freshly grated root ginger

1.            Pierce each one of the young walnuts all over with a sharp fork or darning needle. Place the walnuts into a bowl and fill with enough water to cover. Stir in the salt to make brine. Put a plate on top, to make sure they are submerged and soak the walnuts for a week. Drain the mixture and make the brine again. Soak for another week.
2.            After the second week, drain the walnuts and lay them out on racks to dry in a sunny place. In 3-5 days they will turn black. Once they have all turned black, they are ready to pickle.
3.            In a large saucepan, stir together the malt vinegar, dark brown sugar, allspice, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. Bring to boil and then add the walnuts. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

4.            Spoon the walnuts into sterile jars and fill with the syrup to within 1 cm of the top. Seal with lids and rings. Store in the refrigerator or sterilise in a hot water bath for 10 minutes before cooling to room temperature and storing in a cool dark cupboard.
I also made some Walnut Schnapps. In Denmark this is seen as the very best type of Schnapps and it certainly is a singular liqueur. It starts life as a strange looking, emerald infusion, which gradually turns a deeper green.
The Early Stages of a Lengthy Process
Later it changes into an oily black/brown liquid and the final stages it turns a deep mahogany brown.
  • Cut 5-6 large unripe walnuts (picked around July) in quarters.
  • Put them in a clean glass jar with tight-fitting lid.
  • Cover well with clear, unflavoured vodka - 40% (80 proof). Leave some air above the vodka.
  • Steep for 5 months - in a dark place at room temperature,
    18-20°C (64-68°F).
  • From time to time, or at least once a month, shake lightly with the lid off the jar - or stir with a spoon - to allow some oxydation.
  • Strain and filter your infusion into a clean glass bottle or jar with tight-fitting lid.
  • Store for at least 7 months in a dark place at room temperature before serving.
N.B. The longer you store your walnut schnapps - up to 5 years or even longer - the better it gets.
  • Finally filter once more.
Always Wear Rubber Gloves!
The taste changes radically as the drink matures and (after about a year) it ends up as a tasty after dinner dram, something to be nipped sparingly with good friends. If it tastes too strong, it can be diluted up to ten times with more of the plain vodka base, according to taste but you will need to leave it a couple of weeks further to properly infuse.

Having said all of this, and tried a few ideas; I think you should leave walnuts on the tree to ripen. They are much nicer and you can do far more with them this way.


  1. I never knew green walnuts were edible! I have never even found a walnut tree before. hope to soon.

  2. Walnuts are massive! I have never found a walnut tree before and I will use to google fruit map to find one! If we do find one, I would like to try pickling them for Christmas.

  3. Where did you find your green walnuts? I only see the mature ones in stores.

  4. hi
    They grow all over the place really, it's partly a matter of knowing what to look for but beyond that, it is a matter of actually actively looking.
    Have a look at my seasonal tree id sheets, available free via the links to the left.
    Also look at my fruit map and the blog post called Walnut Walk, we saw loads that day.

  5. its green walnut harvest day!!! hip hip hooray!

  6. All the ones I have looked at so far are still tiny, a result of the cold Spring. They will fatten up as the month goes on but I prefer to let them turn into nuts. I'll take just a few to make a new batch of Vin de Noix ;-)

  7. Green walnuts can be used to make jam. This is a traditional Romanian recepie.
    You need:
    - 2 kg of green walnuts
    - 1 kg of sugar (add sugar after your own taste)
    - Water
    - Lemon juice (2, 3 lemons)
    - 1 cinnamon bar
    - Vanilla essence/sugar/bean
    Peel the green walnuts until you reach the white core. Use some gloves not to stain your hands. Put the peeled walnuts in cold water for 12 hours. To avoid the oxidation of the walnuts put some lemon juice in the water. During the 12 hours, change the water 2-3 times.
    Make a syrup with water, sugar, honey (optional) and lemon juice. When the syrup starts to boil, add the walnuts, cinnamon and vanilla essence/sugar/bean. Keep the jam on low fire until the syrup starts to thicken.
    After cooling, the jam can be put into jars! :)

  8. Silviu, in 2015 we are about to try these kinds of recipes with Black Walnut. Can you think of any reason that might not work?