We have a Black Walnut tree and in the past I've always left the walnuts for the squirrels, but this year, I want to harvest them for my own use. They're starting to fall from the tree now, but the hulls are still green. Yesterday, I smashed one open with a hammer, and found what may have been a very unripe walnut. (And I stained my hands brown
) Dd's kindergarten class harvested walnuts last year, but they gathered them in October after they'd been lying on the ground for months and the hulls were brown and rotted. The teacher ran over them with her car to get the hulls off, the kids cracked the shells, and the class made lots of walnut bread.
So, my question is, are you supposed to just leave them on the ground until they ripen, or can you gather them and keep them in a squirrel free spot until they ripen? Does a brown hull mean the walnut is ripe? I can't just leave ours lying around because they get stuck in the lawn mower and drive me crazy. What's the best way to get them out of the hull?
And while we're on the subject, why did my last year's walnut crop have sharp spines all over the hulls? This year and in previous years, they were smooth. Can anyone explain this aberration?