Pickled walnuts are regarded as an English delicacy, though in fact they are believed to have first been made in the southern part of central Asia. They are prepared using green fruit from the Jugans regia tree, which is also referred to as the English Walnut or Persian Walnut. Pickled walnuts are something of an acquired taste but are often paired with strongly flavoured cheeses such as Stilton, and with cold ham, roast beef and other meats. There are many recipes, but most involve pickling the fruit in malt vinegar. The finished article should last for several years.
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Things you need
- 1kg immature walnuts
- 250g brown sugar
- 1/2 litre malt vinegar
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
Pick the walnuts in the summer while the fruit is green and the skin is still soft, ie before the shells have developed. June is often said to be the best month. You can check whether the shells have begun to form inside the fruit by inserting a pin.
Pierce the green skin of the walnuts with a fork or other sharp implement while wearing rubber gloves, and place the nuts in a dish. Add sufficient water to cover the nuts together with 110g of salt. Leave the nuts for one week, then drain them and cover them again with more salty water.
Drain the nuts and place them on plates in a dry but well-ventilated part of the house. They will start to turn black and after a few days will be ready to be combined with the vinegar, sugar and spices.
Place the other ingredients in a pan and bring to the boil, then stir in the walnuts and simmer for no longer than 20 minutes.
Allow the walnuts to cool then place them in jars, topping up the containers with the liquid from the pan. Leave the walnuts for a few weeks before serving.
Recipe for a perfect pickle
Tips and warnings
- Follow tradition by serving pickled walnuts with cheese at the end of a Christmas feast.
- Pickled walnuts can be cooked with beef stews and similar dishes.
- If you harvest the walnuts too late the recipe won't work as the shells will prevent the pickling process from proceeding.
- Beware of the liquid released when you prick the fruit as it can cause brown stains.
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