Pickled Walnuts

pickled walnuts

This is something a little bit special when it comes to preserves recipes.  They are the work of weeks, rather than hours but pickled walnuts really are a special treat for nut lovers.  Yes, pickled walnuts take a little bit of work in terms of finding the walnuts and waiting for nature to take its course but the results of your labour will more than repay your efforts.

First things first, the walnuts you need for pickling purposes need to be green and immature. Ideally, you need to harvest in the summer, catching them before their shells have formed.  You can check if they’re ready by sticking a pin into the end which used to hold the flower.  If the shell has started to form, your pin won’t be able to push through and you should discard the nut.

Once that’s done, and you’ve collected about 2kg of walnuts ready to pickle, pull together your other ingredients

  • Enough water to cover the nuts
  • 225g salt
  • 1 litre of malt vinegar
  • 500g brown sugar
  • 1/2tsp black peppercorns
  • 1tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1tsp allspice
  • 1tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

To prepare your pickled walnuts


  1. Lay out your walnuts, prick them all with a fork and then cover them with salt and water.
  2. Leave for a week. Yes, that’s right, a whole week to let nature begin to work its magic.
  3. Drain and refresh them with a new brine solution before leaving for another week.
  4. Drain once more and spread the walnuts out across trays that can be left somewhere dry and airy.
  5. After a few days or so you’ll find they’ve turned black.
  6. Once this has happened, add all of your other ingredients to a large preserving pan, bring to the boil and then tip in your prepared walnuts.
  7. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool before spooning the nuts into large jars and topping up with the liquid to cover.

These pickled walnuts will literally last for years, but I challenge any of you to keep your hands off them that long. It’s almost as if the fact that you’ve invested so much time in these makes you want to greedily devour them and they never stick around long enough in our house to drift to the back of the cupboard. If you do manage to keep your hands off them for long enough they are of course a classic to serve at the Christmas supper table or indeed an evening Thanksgiving evening buffet.

Enjoy those pickled walnuts!

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