The Cottage Smallholder

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Secret ingredients: Pickled Walnuts Grand Challenge 2010

Photo: Pickled walnuts amd Sweet Peas

Photo: Pickled walnuts amd Sweet Peas

Although I left Magic Cochin’s house in January clutching the trophy silver pickle fork, they were just being kind. The Cochinery had produced wonderful pickled walnuts. The vintage 2005 were to die for and all smugness ceased as I divd into the 2008 Cochinery jar. My pickled walnuts didn’t even reach the starting stalls.

“So why have I been awarded the trophy fork?”

“The trophy fork holder hosts next year’s event.”

Admittedly this was our first year of making pickled walnuts but I reckoned that I was in with a chance. I‘d spent hours researching hundreds of pickled walnut recipes. I thought that I’d come up with a couple of real corkers. But when I read Magic Cochin’s review she mentioned that the best one (in my opinion) tasted medicinal and I had to agree with her.

Every time I dust the kitchen mantelpiece I find the elegant fork. The Cochinery gave me a nudge when it was the perfect time for harvesting walnuts this year. As I’m off the road at the moment, these walnuts have had an interesting entry to the world of pickles. Soaked for two weeks in brine (changed every three days) they dried slowly in our cool kitchen. They were finally introduced to a spiced vinegar solution this evening. Mainly because an old friend was dropping by who may have been alarmed by the oval blackened objects laid out on the ancient baking tray.

Each walnut was double tested for softness with the trophy fork and any tooth challenging ones rejected. I used HFW’s recipe with three extra ‘secret’ ingredients. Fresh ginger, mustard seed and a large dollop of hope.

One Saturday, in the middle of January 2010, the Cottage Smallholder will be hosting The Second Grand Pickled Walnuts Challenge. This is open to everyone who makes their own pickled walnuts. Applications in writing please to

If you are planning to stay until midnight we also need a handwritten letter from your parents.

  Leave a reply


  1. Josephine Robinson

    These used to be my Dads favourite and we always noticed the expense. So, whilst on holiday we discovered a large walnut tree and came home with a carrier bag full. Mum did try to make them but they were not a success. Maybe I could do better. also on a doggy walk I discovered three fine trees. which this space.

  2. steve rainbow

    Made mine,as a first try, from a local tree, got an online old recipe,brined for a week changed for fresh brine then dried out for a week used black treacle,allspice and cloves with Sarsons Pickling vinegar. in aLeft cloves in and a few jars with a birds eye chilli in.
    Tried them out yesterday and for a first attempt I am feeling smug.Will definitely do this next year as a large jar of PWs is £4.69,that is a shocking price per Walnut.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Michelle

    I loved this comment. ‘Pickled monkey brains’!!
    And there is something a bit brain like about walnuts so there will be shrieks at Christmas.

    As Magic Cochin says further down they can be used in lots of winter dishes as well as being eaten with cold meat or cheese.

    Hi Kate (uk)

    The squireels in our garden are interested in creating a walnut forest too!

    Hi Magic Cochin

    Great that you’re up for the challenge 🙂

    Thanks for the nudge about using the pickled walnuts in other recipes.

    Yes I’ve got 1.5 litres of walnut vinegar ‘brewing’ in the barn. We can have a ceremonial tasting in January!

  4. magic cochin

    Hi! We’re ready for the challenge – our walnuts have been pickled. This year we picked walnuts from the tree in our own garden.

    And we’re looking forward to trying some recipes using last year’s pickled walnuts – venison casserole, game terrine…

    Did you make the walnut flavoured vinegar!

    Oh! but our secret weapon is the Nocino 😉


  5. kate (uk)

    The squirrels leave me walnuts that get preserved in my plant pots- do they count?

  6. michelle sheets

    Well Fiona, I wanted you to know what a good writer you are, since I tried to make pickled walnuts this year. The part that makes you a good writer is this, I have NEVER tasted a pickled walnut. Ever. But, my brother has a walnut tree that his family doesn’t do anything with, so after reading of your adventures, I was inspired to try. I have 10 pint jars done up, and I am saving them for christmas so all of the nephews and nieces can dare each other to try them since they look a little frightening in their dark brine! (I told the youngest one that they were pickled monkey brains, and she squealed!)

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