Hulling Black Walnuts

It’s just a few days to Clyde Martin’s birthday. He was born in 1924. In the fall, he collected walnuts and pecans which he laboriously processed to sell to people for holiday snacks or baking. Gail Martin recorded his process for hulling black walnuts and posted it on the eHow site. Here it is for you to use his know-how.

How to Hull Black Walnuts

My husband is quite ingenious and came up with this method for removing the hulls from black walnuts. It’s a lot of work, anyway that you do it, but the techniques below are the most efficient and least messy way.

Things You’ll Need:

  • silage fork
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • large plastic trash bin
  • rubber gloves
  • a wooden block
  • a cement mixer
  • a rack and tub
  • burlap bags
  • a fan


The black walnuts are falling in our part of Kansas. My husband, Clyde Martin has his own system of gathering and handling this great treasure from Mother Nature. First, we watch for walnuts that have fallen in someone’s yard. Then we stop and introduce ourselves and ask if they would like for us to clean the nuts up for them.

A black walnut in its hull

Inside this hull is a delicious balck walnut


The round nuts can be dangerous to walk upon in your yard; they will roll and could make you fall. They especially make a yard unsafe if there are small children in the home that like to play outside. The black stuff from the hulls can also ruin a good pair of shoes. Or if you are mowing falling leaves, the walnuts can shoot out from under the mower like they were shot from a cannon. Most people are glad to be rid of the unsightly mess in their yard and driveways. Many people don’t have the time or the knowledge to do anything with the nuts but rake them up and haul them to the dump. It is easier to buy the nutmeats from a store.


Clyde scoops the nuts up and dumps them into a five-gallon bucket, using an old silage fork like he used as a kid on his folk’s farm. The wide fork allows the leaves and other debris fall through but the nuts stay on.
When he has a bucket full he dumps them in old zinc tubs he carries in the bed of his pickup. When he has the area cleaned up, he heads for home.
old-fashioned laundry tubs - photo from pixabay

Tubs like Clyde Martin used when gathering black walnuts.


At home, he puts on heavy rubber gloves to protect his hands from the stain of the black interiors and the acidity in the hulls.


Then he goes to work hulling the nuts using a 2-foot long piece of rough cut 4X4 inch wooden block to push each nut length-wise to break the hull that he twists the rest off.
The hull goes into the tall, plastic collapsible tub to be hauled off to the city’s yard waste area. The nut is tossed into the five-gallon bucket.


When the bucket is full, Clyde dumps them into a cement mixer full of water. This is a noisy process but cleans the nuts of all the black debris that is stuck in the cracks and crevices of the nut’s shell. Usually, fifteen to twenty minutes will clean the nuts but some nuts take longer.
Clyde Martin's walnut husking machine, a cement mixer

Clyde’s walnut husking machine, a cement mixer


Clyde dumps the mixer of nuts into a round rack stationed over another tub to drain the water.


The nuts are then spread out on the garage floor to dry. A fan can be used to hurry up the drying process. When the nuts are dried Clyde scoops the nuts into burlap bags and hang them from the rafters where the drying can continue and the squirrels that come to our pecan trees can’t help their selves to our hard earned black walnuts.

I keep track of the donors of the nuts and we return with a thank you gift of fancy nutmeats arranged in a metal tin with lids. We make spiced nutmeats and also chocolate or vanilla coated clusters separated in the tin with the silver or gold foil cupcake baking cups. This usually assures us of a call the next year when the black walnuts come tumbling down.
Tips & Warnings
  •  Use care as the walnuts hull contains a powerful stain.

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