Joe and I have a habit of fermenting things at every chance. The latest opportunity came in the form of unripe black walnuts. When we arrived at his parents’ Connecticut home in mid-July for a brief visit, the black walnut tree that grows in their yard was heavy with clumps of two to three soft green fruits. We gathered a gallon of them in just ten minutes and brought them inside to brine.
Per Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook’s instructions, we mixed ½ C pickling salt with a ½ gallon of water. As the salt was dissolving in the water under low heat, we stabbed each walnut in a few places with a stout pin to ensure the brine would soak through the middle of each nut. Then we let the walnuts soak in the brine for 8 days.
As they soaked, they released CO2, reminding us to regularly open their lids to let the gases out. Within a few days, the brine had turned black. We then took the walnuts out of their brine, put them on cookie sheets in the sun to encourage even blackening for a good part of a day, then put all the walnuts into jars.
Next, we boiled the pickling mixture and poured the dark liquid into the walnut-filled jars, filling them to the top, using Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook’s pickling recipe:
2 quarts cider vinegar
1 T black pepper
1 T cracked allspice
1 ounce smashed ginger
1 C brown sugar
For the next month (a minimum), we stored the pickling walnuts in our cool pantry that stays at about 55F. After the first month, we began to consume our creation on crackers and in grilled cheese sandwiches, while still keeping them stored in the pantry.
Note: Black walnuts can stain anything, from skin to tablecloths to sneakers.
Special thanks to Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook for this and many other inspiring recipes!