Pickled walnuts

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This recipe needs advance preparation!

Recipe review

Absolute perfetion.

5/5 Unfortunately, these are but a memory until next season, which in March, is months away. The Judge

Pickled walnuts
Pickled walnuts
Pickled walnuts
Calories per serving:40
Ready in:2 days, 2 hours
Prep. time:2 days, 2 hours
Cook time:None
Difficulty:Average difficulty
Recipe author:Chef
First published:23rd September 2020

I've been searching for a pickled walnut recipe for a long while, but can only find a recipe for pickling whole green walnuts. The only information I can find, unhelpfully seems to be cloned all over the Internet.

This is my original attempt at pickling walnuts that have the shells removed.

35 large walnuts, once shelled are enough to fill one 500 ml Kilner jar. 350 ml of sherry vinegar will cover the nuts.

Hopefully the procedures and measurements will be useful to anyone else attempting this.

Preparing the walnut kernels for pickling


Printable 🛒 shopping list & 👩‍🍳 method for this recipe


2 days before the pickling is to start

  1. Remove the shells from the walnuts, discard any damaged or shrunken kernels.
  2. Break the kernels in half [into two cotlydons] to allow the vinegar to penetrate the kernel properly.
  3. Carefully pick though the shelled kernels and remove any pieces of shell, especially the thin piece that divides each nut.
  4. Boil about 500ml of water and mix in 50g of salt and stir well.
  5. Soak the kernels in this brine liquid for 2 days, in a cool place.
  6. A quick taste test after this and the walnuts had a salty 'edge' but not too salty for my taste

Pickling day:

  1. Discard the salt-water and rinse the walnut kernels in a sieve under cold running water.
  2. Rinse and repeat until the water runs clear.
  3. Remove excess brine with a salad spinner if you have one and pat dry with a tea-towel.
  4. Add the sherry vinegar, juniper berries, peppercorns and muscovado sugar to a pan and bring it almost to the boil, then turn off the heat and leave it to go completely cold
  5. remove the pickles from the salt water and pat dry on a clean tea-towel
  6. Sterilise the pickling jar and pack the walnuts into the 500ml Kilner jar
  7. Pour the vinegar, with the spices over the walnuts
  8. Seal and store in a cool, dark place for 2 months to mature.
Walnut weights

35 large walnuts weigh 350 grams in their shells 35 large walnuts weigh 175 grams once the shells are removed.


I tried a few different variations as there were plenty of walnuts available locally. When they are ready I will let you know which worked, and which did not!

Walnuts in red wine vinegar
  • 350 ml red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon jaggery
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Walnuts in cider vinegar
  • 350 ml cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon jaggery
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

Commercial pickled walnuts

Jar of pickled walnuts

Pickled walnuts are a traditional English pickle made by pickling walnuts in malt vinegar. They are commonly served with cold meats and cheeses such as Stilton. There use in the United Kingdom dates back to before 1800, however there is some evidence that walnuts were pickled in the Persian area some 8000 years ago.

Charles Dickens mention pickled walnuts in The Pickwick Papers:

However, there he lay, and I have heard my uncle say, many a time, that the man said who picked him up that he was smiling as merrily as if he had tumbled out for a treat, and that after they had bled him, the first faint glimmerings of returning animation, were his jumping up in bed, bursting out into a loud laugh, kissing the young woman who held the basin, and demanding a mutton chop and a pickled walnut. He was very fond of pickled walnuts, gentlemen. He said he always found that, taken without vinegar, they relished the beer.

They are also an ingredient in Wow-wow sauce, historically served with beef.

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