A perfect October for harvesting walnuts

October is a busy month for harvesting walnuts, as well as various fruits and nuts. As autumn is now upon us, I have been picking walnuts for over a month now. We are lucky to have a couple of very generous walnut trees in our garden, so I always look forward to September and October with great anticipation.

Having said that, I need to be on the ball as I have to be quicker than birds and squirrels!

Nuts tend to drop naturally when their husks soften around September and October time.

When I said I had to be on the ball, I wasn’t joking: this year, they were about 2 weeks early because of the hot weather we have been having in Brittany. Best to keep an eye out if I want a decent crop.

When it comes to harvesting walnuts, you don’t actually pick them from the trees. You collect the ones that have fallen on the ground. A word of friendly advice: if some of them have dropped to the floor still in their husk, use gloves, otherwise you will get black fingers and nails for days!

Harvesting walnuts

My neighbour is a great fan of fresh walnuts, still in their husks. Once the shell is broken, the skin peels off incredibly easily, and the taste of the walnut itself is very different from the older, drier ones. This isn’t to everyone’s taste, but I must say, I quite like them this way, even though my preference goes to older, more “traditional”. walnuts.

I mentioned earlier that we are lucky to have two great walnut trees in our garden, but this is nothing compared with my neighbour’s walnuts: hers are absolutely huge! See the photo!

Walnuts are so versatile: a few recipe ideas

There is so much to be done with walnuts, whether they get used in sweet or savoury dishes. I find them so versatile.

For example, on the sweet front, one of my favourite recipes is a banana and walnut loaf, walnut date and honey cake, or walnut flapjacks. A classic idea would be a simple, straightforward walnut tart. Or, even simpler, sprinkle them on your breakfast cereal or even yoghurt (my husband is a fan).

When it comes to savoury dishes, I once made a savoury potato walnut cake, but I can also think of a walnut and mushroom bolognese, or even goats cheese salami and walnut muffins.

Storing walnuts

Walnut cake

If, like ourselves, harvesting walnuts is not only easy but also a pleasant pastime, go for it! Once dried, they can be kept for months in a cool, dry area. To dry walnuts, place them in a well-ventilated place. However, do not expose them to direct sunlight, they wouldn’t like it. Leave them there for a fortnight until the shells are completely dry. You can try drying them outside if there is no risk of rain.

On the other hand, to store fresh kernels in the best conditions possible, keep them in the fridge. Walnuts can even be frozen in an airtight container to keep them longer, up to 12 months (with or without their shells!). As they don’t contain water, they don’t stick together.

I will post recipes with walnuts on this blog soon, but if you find you can’t wait any longer as you are probably salivating by now (as I am), the internet is full of wonderful, exciting recipes. 

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