Pickling and Preserving Green Walnuts Recipes

A selection of recipes for green walnuts.

Green walnuts

Pick your walnuts while they are still green

Pickled Walnuts

Pick only young green walnuts – usually around June. Remember that walnuts stain. Great for making homemade hair dye and self-tan, but will make your fingers look disgusting if you don’t wear gloves!

Prick your nuts. If you can feel a shell inside them, discard them. They must have an unformed shell.

Soak them in brine. (Brine is just salty water. To make brine add 100g of salt to every 1 litre of water).

Leave them in the brine for 10-12 days. After 3-5 days drain and refresh with fresh brine for the rest of the period.

Then drain them and dry them on a rack for 24 hours. They will go black.

Put your black walnuts in a jar, and cover with spiced pickling vinegar.

Marinate for a month or two – depending on the vinegar solution you used and the taste that you like. Presto! Pickled walnuts!

Flickr - cyclonebill - Valnøddesnaps

Walnuts soaking in brine

Pickled Walnut Ketchup

Now, if you want to really stretch this crop. Once you have pickled your walnuts and are ready to eat them, don’t throw away the vinegar. I have put a suggested foraged edible wild spice mix and also a kitchen equivalent.

Strain the vinegar off (eat the pickled nuts) and to each 1 litre of vinegar add:
1 tsp ground toasted hogweed seed (1 tsp. ground cardamon)
1 tsp wild dried fennel seed (1 tsp. ground fennel)
1 tsp dried alexanders seed (1 tsp. ground celery seed)
100g wild garlic or 15 bulbs of wild garlic (40g / 6 garlic cloves)
7 to 10 cm of horseradish root (hot)

Boil for 15-20 minutes to reduce the mixture. Strain. Bottle (in sterilised jars or bottles) and use instead of ketchup!

Spicy Green Walnut Pickle Pesto

Keep back some of your green walnut ketchup. Put handfuls of any of the following into a blender (adding to suit your taste):

Hairy bittercress (leaves and flowers)
Wild garlic leaves (leaves and flowers)
Three cornered leek (leaves and flowers)
Ground elder leaves
Pine nuts (gathered from pine or monkey puzzle trees of course)

Add green walnut ketchup a little at a time. Blend until you reach pesto consistency.

Green Walnut Grappa

Click and try this recipe for a great tasting liqueur.


  1. I’ve been wanting to try picking black walnuts; we have so many around us. I noticed the brined nuts are cut into sections. At what point in the pickling process do you slice them up?

    • Hi. They have to be unripe and you should be able to push a metal skewer right through them if the shell is unformed inside. So test them, then pick them (with gloves on!) and then cut them into quarters before the brining process starts. Have fun!

  2. Never had these before but want to make as heard they are a good anti parasitic. Once pickled is the whole thing edible? Including the green ‘shell/skin’?

  3. These preserved walnuts are a specialty of Lebanon, too, where there is a large Armenian community. They are delicious, preserved and cooked up in a syrup. I’m experimenting with recipes now–looking for ideas.

  4. John Langford

    I recently returned from France and as I love pickled wallnuts I picked some intending to pickle them but when reading your recepe I brealise I picked them too late as there is a shell.Any suggestions on what I can do with them please?

    • If the shell is soft enough to still cut them, try making Walnut Nocino. This is a nice liqueur.

      You will need:
      Enough green walnuts to fill a large preserving jar, early enough in the year so you can cut them with a knife (about 30)
      Spices: 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks, a few whole cloves, nutmeg mace, 3 cm vanilla bean or see my Wild Spice Chart for ideas!
      Citrus: Strips of zest peeled from a lemon or orange, cut into strips
      Sugar 500g (2.5 cups) if you like it very sweet. 200g (1 cup) if you don’t.
      1 litre vodka

      Cut the walnuts (with gloves on – they stain!) and put everything into a large glass preserving jar and cover with vodka. Close the lid securely and give it a good shake. Keep in the jar for 6 weeks, and shake it up every day. Over the weeks you will notice the colour getting darker. After 6 weeks use a slotted spoon to take out the walnuts and spices. Then strain the liquid into glass bottles using a few squares of muslin to keep out any small pieces. You can do a final strain through coffee filters too if you have the patience as it can be very slow to go through. Cap of cork the bottles and leave for a year. If you try it before then it may still be a bit bitter!

  5. I live in Manchester, UK. I am looking for some green black walnut. Can you please tell me where can I get it. Thank you

    • If you’re looking for fresh walnuts you will need to find a tree near you. Try asking people at your local allotments, or local park rangers, if they know of any trees near you.

  6. Ray Pierce

    I have many jars of pickled walnuts stored in pickling vinegar which I pickled in August this year. They look the part and the first jar I opened tasted great. A month on however they are very sharp taste of strong vinegar. Should I change the vinegar to store or store in brine. Help – I have about 20 jars. Regards. Ray Pierce

    • The vinegar can make a big difference. I used pickling vinegar for some samphire this year and it was also very sharp. Suggest you strain off the vinegar and replace with a softer one (white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar). If you use a decent quality one, you can always recycle it later for dressings etc. The cheapie ones are little more than acid 🙂

  7. Be careful. There are two types of walnut tree. Black walnuts apparently have a toxic outer layer. One should use English Walnut tree nuts……. Check with someone more knowledgeable than me.

    • Wild black walnuts (Juglans nigra) are edible and widely eaten in the USA. They are however toxic to plants that try to grow within their dripline.

  8. Ian Harrison

    Do you have to cut them or can you keep them whole when brineing them?

  9. Can windfall green walnuts be used? (We’ve just had a big storm here and have a lot of small, green walnuts on the ground)

  10. Hi Monica, thanks for all the info here. I’ve got a question elaborating on the last post,,,if using nuts from windfall, how can I tell if they are developed enough? What should the approximate size of the fruit be?

    • The size will depend on your tree but you can tell they’re ok if you can stick a skewer through them with ease still. This means the shell hasn’t developed too much. Last batch I did were hardly larger than olives but usually about twice that size.

  11. I left my walnuts a bit too late for pickling, or so I thought. I pickled them anyway and after a a month I tried them and it was like eating a small rodent whole! bones and all. I forgot about them for a year and tried them again. The walnut shells had disappeared, or at least softened. They were lovely. Good job I hadn’t thrown them away.

  12. Marie Witteveen

    How long can you keep pickled walnuts in malt vinegar.
    I have a jar from a shop

    • Probably 5 or 6 years if they’re well submerged under the vinegar and they still have a bite to them. If they’re sludgy they’re probably past it.

  13. Ashley Tidbury

    Hello x. My first time doing this. Can i brine tgem with herbs from my garden… Eg rosemary… Or will it not work with the pickeling part..

    Thankyou u x

  14. Alan Green

    After brining the walnuts I have left them to dry in on a ledge by an open window for two days. Retrieving them for pickling today I see some have developed white spots. Is this harmful?

  15. Ashley Tidbury

    Hi I was wondering if you can add rosemary to the brining stage to give a deeper flavour. Or would this not work..

    Also.. Yes gloves are a much… Wish id read that part begore i had pricked them.

  16. Ashley Tidbury

    Hi. Me again. Some of the sliced ones. Tge middle have gone a grey colour in the brine… Is this normal

  17. I attempted to make some pickled walnuts but after 8 days in the brine I found white mold at the surface… is it safe to remove the small amount of mold and go forward?

    • If the mold was floating on the top of the brine just spoon it off. If you make sure all the walnuts are fully submerged, none will be affected.

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