English walnuts grow on enormous trees that can reach up to 100 feet. The nuts grow with a shell covered by a thick, green hull. When the trees have enough rain or irrigation in the fall, the hulls begin to crack and the nuts fall to the ground. This happens around October, depending on the climate where the tree is growing. When many nuts begin to fall and most of them have cracked hulls, it is time to harvest them.
Things You'll Need
Long, hooked pole
Wait until most of the nuts that have fallen to the ground have cracked hulls. This indicates they are ready for harvest.
Shake the tree's limbs carefully with the long, hooked pole to dislodge nuts that are ready to fall. Do not shake too vigorously because you might damage the tree. Any nuts that fall from vigorous shaking would not be ready for harvest anyway.
Gather only the nuts that have cracked hulls and haul them to the work area in the bucket. Wear gloves while handling walnuts that have hulls on them. The hulls have a chemical that can irritate skin. Leave any nuts on the ground that do not have cracks in the hulls. Wait a week or two and check them again for cracks.
Remove the hulls from the nut shells. This is known as shucking. Place the shucked nuts in a single layer on the drying screen. The screen can be any metal screen with openings of at least one-fourth inch to allow air circulation. The openings should be small enough to prevent the nuts from falling through.
Position the screen over a heat source such as a radiator or heat vent. The temperature should be about a constant 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Let the nuts dry above the heat source for three or four days until the kernels snap easily in half and the tissue surrounding the kernel turns brown and brittle. At this point the nuts are ready for eating.
You can store the dried nuts in the shells indefinitely if they are in a cool, dry place
If the nuts are not harvested and dried in time, mold may set in, turning the kernel dark. At this point the nuts are inedible.