Dad is making pickled walnuts for Christmas 2013! He brought back about 60 walnuts from our huge walnut tree in Portugal. In the European Union you are allowed to bring back food that is grown in the EU and disease-free, and Portugal is part of the EU! In England pickled walnuts are a delicacy. Here is Dad’s guide to making your own pickled walnuts:
What you need:– As many walnuts as you want (if you do go overboard then you might need an extra jar, container and saucepan!) – Rubber gloves – 1 sharp knife – 1 container to store them in while they are maturing (ie. storage box) – 1 large saucepan for cooking them – 1 preservative jar (size depends on how many pickled walnuts you want) – Spiced vinegar (see below)
1) First, you need to find a walnut tree.
They grow in the UK but finding one might be tricky. Hopefully you found this guide because you have a walnut tree in your back garden or nearby.
2) When do I pick them?
Ideally, you need to pick them late in June. My parents had to leave for the ferry in early June so ours were picked then so hopefully they will still be okay. You need to pick them from the tree and not take the fallen walnuts. My Dad picked about 2kg worth of walnuts. You can pick as many as you like provided you have enough jars!
3) Top and tail them.
Put some thick gloves on. Rubber gloves will do! You will need to top and tail each one with a sharp knife. When you do this the juice inside the walnut will leak out. If you get this on ungloved hands then it will stain your hands brown for days and you’ll need to wash your hands tens of times to get it off.
4) Prick them
After you top and tail them you want to prick them twice. You can either do this with a knife or a skewer, your choice. You want to throw away the ones that have a shell forming inside. So when you prick them if they feel hard then then chuck them. It’ll be a bit of trial and error to get a feel for which ones have the shell forming and which ones don’t.
4) Soak them in brine.
Submerge them in brine. You will need enough brine to cover them completely. Leave them to stand in the brine for 7 days. Brine is just water with salt. So if you have 1kg worth of walnuts then submerge in tap water and add 100g of salt and then give it a little stir.
5) Change the brine.
Drain away the old brine and pour in some fresh brine. If you are going to handle the walnuts then put some gloves on. Leave them to soak for a further 7 days.
6) Drain the brine and sun dry them.
After 7 days have passed you want to drain away the brine and allow them to sit outside in the sun for 4 days. They’ll gradually turn black. On the 4th day you want to start the cooking!
7) Brush them down and then cook!
To the kitchen! We brushed each one down with a paint brush (no kidding) and then weighed them. There was just under 1kg. Mum refused to have them in the house while they were soaking in brine so we brushed off bits of the outdoors.
Find yourself a big saucepan or vat and put the following in per kg of walnuts to make spiced vinegar:500ml of Malt Vinegar 250g of Brown Sugar 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon 1 teaspoon of ‘all spice’ 1/2 teaspoon of cloves 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Place it all together in the saucepan and bring to the boil. Add all the walnuts and then allow to simmer for 15mins. Then turn off the heat and leave to cool.
8) Sterilise a preservative jar.
While you are cooking you can also sterilise the preservative jar. What we did was submerge the jar and the lid in boiling water for 10mins. It’s important to sterilise your jar otherwise you might end up will mould growing in it with your pickled walnuts… ew! There’s plenty of other ways to sterilise your jar, just look them up.
9) Spoon your walnuts into the jar.
You’re nearly there! Just spoon the walnuts into the jar and then top the jar up with the remaining liquid from the saucepan. Seal and then place them into a dark cool place. Dad is putting our jar into the garage.
There are lots of things that go well with pickled walnuts, just have a look on the internet. They will be ready to eat straight away but we’re saving ours until Christmas so they’ll be going with our turkey. I’m not 100% convinced by pickled walnuts but Dad is. My next little guide will be on fig jam because figs are deliciiiiious!