Green walnut alert! With this hot weather, best not to wait until the usual New Year’s Day-ish to pick them.
They must be picked before any of the shell forms (test with a skewer) – it can’t be left too late or the end result is not worth the trouble in fact is inedible as the tough woody shell component does not make for good eating.
I’m finding each year that they need to be checked earlier and earlier.
On Sunday friends brought their crop (of about 16 kilos) here and we all set to work pricking each and every walnut before placing half in brine for the savoury/sour variety, to be stirred twice a day for 4 days. They are then drained and a afterward submerged in a new batch of brine and that twice daily repeated for another three days.
The other half were submerged in water, to be changed each day for 8 days before cooking in a sugar syrup and bottling.
In each case at the end of either the brining or water-soaking time, they need to be drained and placed on trays in the sun to blacken – this takes 2 to 3 days.
Incidentally, beware the task of pricking the walnuts – wearing plastic gloves is essential. Otherwise your hands will be stained green immediately, and those stains will be black by the next day, staying that way for many days.
Even with gloves I ended up with one black finger where the juice seeped in.
It’s all a bit of a process but so worth it for these outstanding and unusual preserves.
It’s even quite fun to do and not so onerous when undertaken with a couple of good friends.