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How to Crack Open Black Walnuts

Black walnuts are some of the best tasting, flavorful nuts, but they can be quite a pain to open. If you have a black walnut tree in your backyard, then finding ripe walnuts shouldn’t be difficult. Once the husk is off and the walnuts have cured and dried, the next big task is cracking open the walnuts. You’ll need a few supplies and some strength.

Fill a bucket with walnuts, cover them in hot water and allow to soak for a day.

Pour out the old water the following day and refill the bucket with fresh hot water. Allow the walnuts soak for an additional two hours.

Dampen two cloths with hot water. Spread out one of them on flat surface. Drain the walnuts and place them on the damp cloth. Cover the walnuts with the second cloth to keep them moist.

Wear safety goggles and place your now-empty bucket below a vise. Set one walnut in the vise so the seam of the walnut is parallel with the jaws of the tool.

Turn the handle of the vise to clamp down on the walnut until it cracks. Slowly open the vise and allow the shells, shell pieces and meat of the walnut to fall into the bucket.

Sort through the broken walnut and place the nut meat in the medium bowl. Dump the shell pieces in the bucket. Shake the walnut shell pieces to release any meat that might be remaining.

Crack one nut at a time until they are all open.


Each walnut should have four quarter-pieces of nut, making collection quick and simple once the shell is cracked. If you don’t have a vise, crack open the walnuts by placing one walnut at a time into a grocery bag and striking the walnut with a hammer. Sort the meat from the shell after each cracking. This method, however, will produce smaller, broken pieces of nut.


Wearing safety goggles is strongly advised. The shells and shell pieces have potential to damage the eyes as they fly from the impact of a vise or hammer.

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