How to make pickled walnuts

Pickled walnuts cut in half on a chopping board

It wasn’t until we were living in Scotland that I discovered pickled walnuts. Pickled where they readily available and affordable in most supermarkets. But in New Zealand they are relegated to the occasional shelf in deli’s with a gourmet product with a price to match. They are something I miss eating so I learnt how to make pickled walnuts.

Young unripe walnuts are brined and pickled before the shells harden in their green husks. The inner shell needs to be soft enough to pass fork tines through so the brine and pickling liquids can do their jobs.

Green walnuts are easiest to source if you pick your own, from your garden, forgaing or find someone with a tree. Most people with walnut trees tend to have more walnuts than they could ever eat, otherwise produce swap groups can be a great way to find a supplier.

How to make pickled walnuts


Step one
  • About 30 green, unripe walnuts
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1 litre cold water
step two
  • 500ml apple cider or malt vinegar ( not gf)
  • 1/2 tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp cracked allspice berries
  • 15 g fresh ginger – peel and grate
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar


Dissolve the sea salt in cold water to make a brine.

Wear gloves to prevent your hands getting stained. Poke a fork through each walnut 2 or 3 times, this will ensure the brine penetrate the whole walnut. If a fork won’t go through the walnut, discard it.

Cover the walnuts in brine and leave to ferment for 8 days at room temperature. Use a weight to ensure the walnuts stay submerged in the brine.

Drain the brine, place the walnuts on a baking sheet or tray. Leave them outside in the sunshine for a day or until they turn uniformly black.

Pack the walnuts into sterilised jars. Bring the ingredients from step two to a boil and pour over the walnuts leaving a little headspace at the top.

Seal and keep in a cool place for a 4-6 weeks before eating.

The picking season for unripe green walnuts is very short, other vegetables you might like to preserve are baby carrots, spring asparagus of even little turnips. There are multiple ways to preserve lemons when you have a great harvest.

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