I have always loved pickled walnuts. The green immature nuts are pickled before they go hard. Apparently they are very popular in England especially before strong tasting Indian spices because available. Their main use is with cheese in ploughman’s lunch type meals. We add them to salads and I occasionally eat one neat right out of the jar. Before writing this post I visited about 12 other pages about pickled walnuts. Most of them have an almost identical recipe. The main variations are the amount of salt to put in the brine, the amount of time to leave them in the brine and to either boil them after brining or to leave them in the sun. There is a lot of difference in how sweet people like them, the commercial ones are quite sweet.
I have made them for the last 3 years but each year I forgot how I did it the previous year so hopefully this blog post will help me improve them scientifically.
It is possible to buy pickled walnuts but they are incredibly expensive. In the USA a 390g bottle costs $16 Click here to buy pickled walnuts at Amazon That would mean that the the batch I am making this year would be worth $615 or $51 per month, that is enough to pay for the internet connection. In the UK you can buy pickled walnuts in the shops I think they are made by Crosse & Blackwell. (or is that Branston Pickle?)
The amount of salt
If you look at other recipes they often give very inexact instructions about how much salt to add. In the end I have decided to use a 10% brine solution. Just put all the green walnuts into a bucket. Weigh the bucket with some weighing scales. Add the water until they completely cover the walnuts, then weigh the bucket again. If you are using the metric system the increase in weight is the same as the amount of water so in our case 7.6 kilos is 7.6 litres. Then I used the brine calculator on this page
What is the salt doing? I don’t think any fermentation is going on in this recipe. The function of the salt is to draw the liquid out of the walnuts and to enable them to dry out without rotting and then replace the liquid with preservative vinegar. By the way 3 years ago I made them much too salty before pickling. I corrected this by putting them in water for a day.
Date: 5th June 2015
7.6 litres water + 843g salt (10% brine solution)
Date: 22nd June 2016
18 litres water +2000g salt (10% brine solution)
Date: 26th June 2018
15 litres water 1500g salt (10% brine solution)
Date: 19th June 2019
16 litres water 1778g salt (10% brine solution)
The pricking process for 1 person was 250g per minute.
The walnuts this year are very big.
Date: 17th June 2020
12 litres water 1200g salt (10% brine solution)
Pick green walnuts with no hard shell inside: (in early June)
Prick them all with a fork
Leave then in salt water brine for 3 weeks. (move them around with your hand occasionally)
Drain the water leave them in the sun until they are dry and black. (3 days)
Put them into jars and pour vinegar over them.
Add pickling spices to the vinegar.
Malt vinegar is probably best with you can also use cider vinegar with a couple of bottles of balsamic vinegar mixed in.
New idea 2020. Instead of keeping the walnuts in jars in vinegar I store the walnuts in a dried condition. When a jar of pickled walnut is finished I just add some dried walnuts and top it up with some more vinegar. They are ready to eat about 5 days later. This method uses a lot less vinegar and it means that the vinegar does not have to be very strong. One problem with picked walnuts it that the vinegar is very strong. Recently I have started putting then in water for a couple of days before eating and the vinegar is much less sharp. I have also started doing this with pickled beetroot. Just boil up small batches of beetroot from the garden and recycle the beetroot vinegar. If they are only going to be in the jars for a few weeks a weaker vinegar can be used. I have been using pear wine vinegar which came from a batch of wine which went wrong.
By the way: The best place to buy malt vinegar is in the Asian supermarkets in Sparkbrook Birmingham UK. It is possible buy it in 5 litre containers at low prices.
This is Kayley our Maori volunteer from New Zealand and Ian from Scotland picking walnuts. Shep the dog tried a walnut but ended up vomitting. I tried a raw one last year and it almost made me vomit. The haircuts are done with battery operated clippers from Lidl.
The green walnuts read around mid June. If you push a knitting needle through them you should meet no hard bits.
Here we are prickling the green walnuts with a table fork about 4 times each nut. I did warn Kayley and Ian that it is best to use rubber gloves but they liked the idea of having brown hands for a few days.
Some of these nuts have blemished. It does not matter because they all turn black in the end.
Here is a the wikipedia entry for walnuts
I will put some more pictures up as the process continues.