The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

How to harvest and store walnuts and cobnuts



“I’m going down to collect some walnuts. Apparently there are masses under the trees.”
“Is it OK to pick them up from the ground?”
“Yes. I used to collect them on the big estate when I was working there. They used to call me down from my ladder to gather them so that they could mow. The shells mucked up the mower.”
We were sitting at the top of our allotment. On two ancient chairs that we inherited with the plot. We spend quite a bit of time perched on these. Looking down the hill and on to the flat area on the other side of the concrete road where The Chicken Lady and S have a new plot too.

If it’s windy, we hole up in the old chicken shack. It’s a bit like being on the prow of an ancient steamboat. In fact we’ve started referring to it as our ship.
“I wish there were cobnuts to forage. Perhaps we should grow them at home.”
I’d heard that cobnut trees can grow very large but perhaps the size could be kept in check with annual pruning?

Apart from offering free compost, water and pallets the Allotment Association on our site provides some communal areas where all plot holders can share the bounty. Plums are succeeded by apples, pears and then nuts. Wet walnuts are a favourite of mine and considered a delicacy. Walnuts are easily dried in the airing cupboard or a sunny windowsill for a couple of weeks if you are planning to store them for a year or so. Walnuts are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids On our new “move away from so much meat diet” the prospect of free walnuts was welcomed with open arms.

So I drifted down to the communal area. Bag in hand. Clearly mega foraging had gone on. So I started to examine the further reaches beneath the walnut tree where most people hadn’t bothered to venture.

Oh lucky, lucky day.

In the grass I spotted a cob nut and then another and a trio. Then more. I collected green and brown nuts. On closer examination, a lot of the brown ones had already been drilled by the dreaded nut weevil but the green ones are fine. Like the wet walnuts, cob nuts can be savoured green (they keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks) but drying them is a bit more of a palaver. Here are expert instructions if you are lucky enough to find cobnuts and need to dry them I reckon that it would be worth following the instructions for pruning the cobnut tree to get a much bigger harvest next year for everyone. I’m also going to dig over the ground around the cobnut tree to kill off a lot of the weevils and their grubs.

When I climbed up the hill with my bounty, Danny was delighted that I’d found cobnuts. We celebrated by resting in the prow of the old chicken shack and watched with awe the swallows flying low. They were looking for insects and preparing for the long trip back to a sunny winter in Egypt. We toasted them with water – that’s all we had. As our eyes followed them, twisting and swooping, we agreed that they deserved to be toasted with the best Champagne as their show was superb. Such tiny birds with so much beauty,  energy and elan.

Later we wondered how many swallows actually survive the autumn trip back to Egypt? It’s over two thousand miles after all.

  Leave a reply


  1. Graham Hyde

    They could be sweet chestnuts if they’ve fallen from a large tree,which the sweet chestnut is.

  2. we have some huge trees here that I thought were a kind of hazel, their nuts grow in hairy clusters there are loads of them on the ground and I gathered a few but have been reluctant to eat them, could these be cobnuts? no one here in Germany seems to be gathering them.

  3. This is Patsy from the states. I had to look up “cobnut” on google to find out what it was and found that is a kind of hazelnut. Not sure if we have those over here. We do have hazelnuts but I think this might be a bit different. Still love reading your blog. Keep it up. God bless.

  4. Magic Cochin

    OK, I have 2 walnut trees and 3 Hazel/Cobb/Filbert trees – so how do I keep the pesky squirrels from grabbing the lot before they are even worth picking as ‘wet’ nuts?

    BTW Your allotment sounds idyllic!


  5. Tanya @ Lovely Greens

    What a wonderful description of your day…you have a way with words 🙂 And I love the area of a communal harvest area at your allotment site – I wish we had one too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,237,272 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder