How to Shell Black Walnuts

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Black walnuts are a nutritious and delicious nut that is used in a variety of recipes. However, shelling them can be a daunting task for many people due to their hard and thick outer shell. Learning how to shell black walnuts can be a useful skill to have, especially if you enjoy using them in your cooking or baking.

In this article, I will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to shell black walnuts. From gathering materials to sorting and storing the nuts, we will cover everything you need to know to successfully shell black walnuts at home.

Whether you are a seasoned pro or a beginner, this article will provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to tackle the task of shelling black walnuts with confidence.

Gathering Materials

Before you begin shelling black walnuts, it is important to gather all the necessary materials. Here is a list of the materials you will need:

Black Walnuts

This is obvious, but you need to make sure you have enough black walnuts to shell. It’s best to start with a small batch and work your way up as you become more comfortable with the process.

Protective Gear

Black walnuts have a tough outer shell that can be difficult to crack. It’s important to protect your hands from cuts and bruises by wearing gloves while shelling them. You should also consider wearing eye protection, as shell fragments can fly off and cause eye injuries.


A hammer is necessary to crack the black walnut shell. You can use any hammer you have available, but a small or medium-sized hammer is best.


Pliers are helpful for removing the black walnut meat from the shell. You can use any type of pliers, but needle-nose pliers are ideal.


You will need a bowl to hold the shelled black walnuts. Make sure it is large enough to hold all the nuts you plan to shell.

Clean Cloth or Tarp

Shelling black walnuts can be messy, so it’s best to work on a clean cloth or tarp to make clean-up easier.

Once you have gathered all your materials, you’re ready to begin shelling black walnuts. Remember, safety comes first, so always wear gloves and eye protection while shelling.

Preparing the Nuts

Before you can start shelling black walnuts, you need to prepare the nuts. Here are the steps to prepare black walnuts for shelling:

Gather Fresh Nuts

Black walnuts are best when they are fresh, so try to collect them from the tree if possible. If you are buying them from a store or online, make sure they are fresh.

Rinse and Dry

Rinse the black walnuts in cold water and use a brush to remove any debris or dirt. Dry them thoroughly with a clean towel or let them air dry.


One popular method to prepare black walnuts is to freeze them. Place the black walnuts in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer for a few days until they are frozen solid.


Remove the black walnuts from the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature for a few hours. As they thaw, the moisture inside the shell will contract, making the shell easier to crack.

Protective Gear

Put on gloves and eye protection before you start shelling. The shells of black walnuts are tough, and there is a risk of injuring your hands or eyes.

By following these steps, you will have prepared your black walnuts for shelling. It’s important to wear protective gear to avoid any injuries while shelling. With your prepared nuts and your safety gear on, you’re ready to move on to the shelling process.

Shelling the Nuts

Now that you have prepared your black walnuts for shelling and have gathered all the necessary materials, it’s time to start shelling. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to shell black walnuts:

Crack the Shell

Hold the black walnut in one hand and use a hammer to gently crack the shell. Be careful not to hit it too hard or the meat inside will be damaged. Use a light, controlled force to crack the shell.

Remove the Outer Shell

Use your fingers or a pair of pliers to remove the outer shell from the nut. The outer shell is thick and tough, so this may take some time and effort.

Remove the Inner Membrane

Once you have removed the outer shell, you will see a thin, brown membrane covering the meat of the nut. Use your fingers or a pair of pliers to remove this membrane.

Extract the Meat

The black walnut meat is inside the inner membrane. Use your fingers or a pair of pliers to extract the meat from the membrane. The meat is soft and crumbly, so be careful not to damage it.


Repeat this process for each black walnut until you have shelled all of them.

Dispose of the Shells

 Once you have shelled all the black walnuts, dispose of the shells and any other debris.

Shelling black walnuts can be a time-consuming process, but the delicious meat inside is worth the effort. Remember to take your time and use caution while shelling to avoid any injuries.

Sorting and Storing the Nuts

After shelling your black walnuts, it’s important to sort and store them properly. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Sorting – Sort the shelled black walnuts to separate any damaged or rotten nuts from the good ones. Discard any nuts that are discolored, moldy, or have an off smell.
  2. Drying – Spread the good black walnuts in a single layer on a clean cloth or a wire rack. Let them air dry for several days until the nuts are completely dry. Stir them occasionally to ensure that all sides are exposed to air.
  3. Storage – Once the black walnuts are dry, place them in airtight containers, such as jars or plastic bags. Store them in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, to prevent them from going rancid. Black walnuts can be stored for up to six months if stored properly.
  4. Freezing – Another option for storing black walnuts is to freeze them. Place the shelled nuts in an airtight container or plastic bag and store them in the freezer for up to a year.

By following these steps, you can sort and store your shelled black walnuts properly. Proper storage will help to maintain their freshness and flavor for an extended period of time. Enjoy your delicious black walnuts in your favorite recipes or as a healthy snack.


Shelling black walnuts can be a challenging but rewarding process. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can prepare, shell, and store your black walnuts properly to enjoy their delicious flavor and numerous health benefits. Remember to wear protective gear while shelling to avoid injuries, and take your time to crack the shells gently to prevent damage to the meat inside.

Sorting and storing your shelled black walnuts properly will help to maintain their freshness and flavor, so you can enjoy them in your favorite recipes or as a healthy snack. So go ahead and give it a try, and enjoy the delicious taste and nutritional benefits of black walnuts.

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