How to Crack and Shell Black Walnuts


Black walnuts are prized for their flavor and are very nutritious. The tree is common throughout the eastern United States, and the green nut pods are commonly found littering the ground in fall. A favorite food of squirrels, the nut has been prized for generations for its taste and ease of harvest, but cracking and shelling the hull to get at the meat requires a bit of skill and do-it-yourself know-how.

Step 1

Place a completely hulled nut on a hard surface such as a concrete driveway or patio blocks.

Step 2

Step on the hull with solid-soled shoes, twisting the hull underfoot until it peels off from the actual shell. An alternative is to use a paring knife to slice through the hull, then peel it apart with your fingers.

Step 3

Place the hull-free nuts on newspapers and allow to cure in the shell for a couple of weeks.

Step 4

Place a cured shell into a heavy-duty nutcracker and gently crack the shell. The pressure and precision of a shop vice also works well for this task.

Step 5

Cut off stubborn shell protrusions with a heavy-duty wire cutter.

Step 6

Pick out the nut meats with a nut pick.

Tips and Warnings

  • Staining will occur on your hands if you peel the hull away with your fingers. To keep the stain off your hands, wear a pair of rubber or standard gardening gloves. Otherwise, the nontoxic stain will fade within a few days.

Things You'll Need

  • Soled shoes or paring knife
  • Newspapers
  • Nut cracker, heavy-duty type or a shop vise
  • Nut pick
  • Wire cutter, heavy duty
  • Rubber or gardening gloves


  • Black Walnut
  • Growing and processing black walnuts
  • Black Walnut
Keywords: Black walnuts, green nut pods, cracking and shelling, hulled nut, heavy duty nutcracker, crack the shell

About this Author

Dale Yelich, the Maintenance Guy, has been involved with do-it-yourself projects, home repair, household maintenance, and as a consultant with home and industries, for over 25 years. His work has appeared in the Lacrosse Tribune, Women's Day and New Home Journal, among others. Yelich has a Master of Science in zoology.