When you purchase unshelled nuts in a store, all you have to do is grab a nutcracker and enjoy them, but when you gather fresh black walnuts, you have to do a little more work. Black walnuts are protected by a hull, which is a thick covering that turns black as the nuts ripen. These hulls can be quite difficult to remove, but it can be done with a little effort and patience.
Put on your rubber gloves before working with the black walnuts. Iowa State University Extension recommends wearing the rubber gloves at all times to prevent skin stains.
Lay out a newspaper to lay the walnuts on. Place the trash can with a fresh trash bag and the bucket of water, half filled with gravel, beside your work space.
Take a knife and cut a full circle around the center of your black walnut hull.
Put the knife down, and using two hands, twist the upper half of the walnut hull and the lower half of the walnut hull in opposite directions until the hull pulls off.
Toss the walnut hulls in the trash, and drop the hulled black walnuts into the bucket of gravel and water. Continue this process until you have hulled all of your walnuts or the bucket is full.
Stir the black walnuts that are in the gravel and water with a spade or a long, sturdy stick. This will help release any hull residue that is left on the walnuts.
Remove the nuts from the water and give them a final rinse with clean water from a garden hose or a utility sink. You do not want to use an indoor sink, as any hull residue can stain whatever it comes into contact with.
Allow the nuts to air dry on a screen or in a mesh bag that is placed in an airy location.