Walnuts must be green and newly fallen or shaken from the tree. Processing should begin right away, because the walnuts will begin to decompose if left in a bucket or box.
Gathering the fruit is one of the easy tasks when processing walnuts. The next step is where the challenge begins. You need to get the edible nut out of its rock-hard armored casing. Squirrels, the masterminds of seed pilfering, figured out long ago how to get the job done with only their teeth, but we humans are dentally challenged by comparison. So, using our arguably superior intelligence and — we have invented all kinds of tools to crack walnut husks.
The most common and basic method of cracking the husk requires a hammer, a hard surface and a towel. Walnut-busting basics are predicated on the issue of extracting the nut without getting the indelible stain of the husk all over your hands, that is why a towel is in fact required. In the old days, slow food was the only food and often people gathered to make the laborious process of processing walnuts a party.
Once the walnut shells are extracted from the husk, you can soak and then cure the whole shells for storage, or you can skip that part and soak them for 24 hours prior to shelling. Shelling will reveal the treasure - nutritious nutmeat.