How to Shell Hickory Nuts


A a tough nut to crack, you need to break out the heavy tools to access the succulent meat from the hickory nut. The difficult shelling makes them rare finds in markets, but the trees grow across the eastern United States. You might have a hickory tree in your own backyard. Collect the nuts in the early fall as they drop off the trees. Hickory nuts need to dry for several weeks before you can enjoy the fruits of your nut harvest, but the distinctive flavor makes it worth the time and effort to shell hickory nuts.

Step 1

Pull off the green husks from the nuts by stepping on the kernels to crack the hulls. Pick the cracked hulls away from the nuts with gloved hands as the hulls will stain your skin.

Step 2

Dry the hickory nuts in mesh bags in a cool, dry spot for three to four weeks. Or, dry the nuts in the sun for three to four days.

Step 3

Set a single hickory nut on the brick.

Step 4

Hit the shell of the hickory nut with the hammer, one-third of the length away from the pointed end of the nut to crack open the shell.

Step 5

Pull the meat from the shell halves with a nut pick. Place the meat in an air-tight container. Eat the nuts immediately or store them in the freezer in an air-tight container for up to one year.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Mesh bag
  • Brick
  • Hammer
  • Nut pick
  • Air-tight container


  • Mother Earth News: Hickory Nuts
  • Journal Sentinel newspaper: Taking a Crack at Hickory Nuts

Who Can Help

  • Vanderbilt University: Carya Fruits - Hickory Nut
  • Hickory Nut Recipes
Keywords: hickory nuts, shell hickory, crack nuts

About this Author

Athena Hessong began her freelance writing career in 2004. She draws upon experiences and knowledge gained from teaching all high school subjects for seven years. Hessong earned a Bachelor's in Arts in history from the University of Houston and is a current member of the Society of Professional Journalists.