There's something about a pot of pickled walnuts that harks back to another time; one of the ultimate traditional English pickles. Follow our guide on how to pickle walnuts and add them to your picnic basket to impress your fellow picnickers

How to pickle walnuts is a skill that is worth preserving; they make the perfect accompaniment to a picnic, ploughman’s or a cheese board laden with British blue cheese. Look carefully and you’ll find them littered through the pages of some of our favourite literature. In Charles Dickens’ first novel The Pickwick Papers there’s “a mutton chop and a pickled walnut” and they make an appearance in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

If you have a walnut tree then preserving them is a treat; they will last for years. The shelled walnuts are the older nuts and the young green nuts are the ones that need to be picked for preserving. Harvest the matured nuts when the protective green hull containing the brown nut splits and these will be perfect in a bowl at Christmas time with a nutcracker to hand.

Try our pheasant and walnut pasties: an easy recipe that requires time and patience but no Masterchef skills (and you could use bought pastry to simplify things up even more).

Dips are simple to make and a picnic hamper essential, says Philippa Davis, sharing her best picnic dips – hummus with an added kick and Portugese-style pâté.


The immature green fruit required for pickling needs to be harvested in the summer before the shell has formed. Check for the readiness with a pin: stick it in the end where the flower was and if the shell has started to form it will be about a quarter of an inch in.


Ingredients for 2kg pickled walnuts

  • 225g salt
  • 1 litre malt vinegar
  • 500g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  1. Prick the walnuts with a fork and cover with water and the salt.
  2. Leave for a week, then drain and renew with a fresh brine solution for another week.
  3. Drain the walnuts and lay out on trays in a dry, airy place. After a few days they will have turned black.
  4. Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan. Bring them to the boil, add the walnuts and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool and spoon the nuts into large jars and cover with the liquid. They should last for years.