We have a walnut tree in our garden and a serious backlog of dried walnuts that need eating (just ask and I’ll let you have some). So this year I thought, having never tried or even seen one, I’d attempt to try and make pickled walnuts…. so I read around a bit and compared recipes and had a go.
First pick your walnuts…. this needs to be done around the beginning of July….maybe the middle…. the date isn’t set in stone. You have to balance off the size of green walnuts your tree has attained against likelihood of an inner shell having formed…stick something sharp into the walnut and if it hits resistance chances are the shell is forming and you’ve missed the boat until next year.
I picked about 2kg (which was all I could reach without serious climbing) and that amount made a large-ish kilner jar plus a small gherkin jar full.
Next settle down with a bowl big enough to fit your walnuts in…. prick each walnut with a fork several times….make a nice pattern to pass the time and then mix 225g of salt with some water and cover the walnuts (some will float and not be totally covered but don’t fret the small stuff).
After a scarily short time the water will turn black and slick looking as ‘something’ is leached out of the walnuts (black bitterness I suspect)… the water will do this long before you’ve managed to wash the walnut juice stain off your hands from pricking them all over.
Give the walnuts a stir daily just so the ones at the top get a go at being submerged and leave for a week.
Recover with fresh brine and wait another week – the second lot of brine will also look mingin’.
After the two weeks are up; drain the walnuts again and lay them out on trays (baking trays are good) and place them in a light airy place for a few days…. they will now turn black.
(I’m told you can do away with stage as it’s just about getting a uniform colour – I cut it short as I was due to go away on holiday).
- 1 litre malt vinegar
- 500g brown sugar (any kind will do but bare in mind the end result will vary – I used Muscavado as it’s what I had)
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp cloves
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger….. to a large pan. Bring it all to the boil and then bung in the blackened walnuts and simmer for about 15 minutes. This will start off smelling like Christmas and end up smelling like a brown sauce factory.Cool for a bit and then spoon walnuts into jars and cover with the liquid. I’m told they will last for years and I suspect they mature very well.I cracked my first jar open after about three weeks and reviews at our house were mixed. The walnuts look disgusting when you cut into them and taste like saltily intense brown sauce.Sliced thinly on a cheese butty they are delish!