Gathering around the nut bowl is a longstanding holiday tradition, but opening nuts in the shell can be a challenge. Walnuts, in particular, have a thick, hard shell, but a nutcracker makes quick work of them. You can also crack nuts open with your bare hands -- and no, this task doesn't require supernatural strength. Simply use one nut as a lever against the other to create the necessary force. Compared to other snacks, walnuts rank high for their health benefits. They contain ample amounts of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, according to the California Walnuts website.
Using a Nutcracker
Hold a walnut between two fingers. Open the nutcracker and place the walnut securely in the center of it.
Hold the nutcracker over a bowl or a trash can to catch any debris. Squeeze the nutcracker shut in your hands until the walnut cracks.
Open the nutcracker and remove the cracked nut. Carefully pull the nut meats out of the shell. Discard the shell.
The Manual Method
Hold two walnuts in the palm of your hand. Line the walnuts up so the ridge of one is slightly inserted in the indentation of the other -- like putting two puzzle pieces together.
Close your hand tightly, squeezing the two nuts together.
Open your hand. Remove the nut meats from the cracked shell. Discard the shell. This method does not crack both walnuts at once.
Store walnuts in their shells in the freezer until ready to use to keep them fresh. Stored this way, they'll stay fresh for six to 12 months.
Use a nut pick to remove the nut meats from the shell once you've cracked them.
Harvesting and cracking black walnuts is a challenge because of their hard husks and shells. Remove the husk after it has changed from bright green to yellowish green. To remove the husks, place the walnuts on a hard surface and tap with a hammer. You can use this technique to crack the shell itself, as well. Wear safety glasses. The practice of running over black walnuts with a car is not recommended. The flying nuts can damage your car or property.