Identifying a Black Walnut Tree: Here is a link with great information on identifying a black walnut tree. Once you have found one, they will be very easy for you to spot, thereafter. Once you have handled the green nuts, you will never forget their distinct smell. We used to play with them as kids...every time I touch one it takes me back! :-) At that time, I had no idea of their strong medicinal properties. I just new they made great "play food" in our fort and my mom brought it to my attention that they stained clothes. :-)
Collecting Walnuts: The walnuts are ready in July/August depending on your region. These trees are very common and plentiful and their nuts are often seen as "litter" in people's yards..so they are easy to collect or get permission to collect on other's property. You an also find them in state parks. It doesn't take many to make a large batch tincture. It is strong and a little goes long way! You want to get the walnuts that are all green. I avoid any browning. You want a nice bright green color. Stay away from the ones that are yellowing or have lots of brown specks or spots, cracks or blemishes. I will even take a stick and knock them out of a the tree if I have too to get them without any brown. These will be the strongest and healthiest hulls to use. After you use the hull you can harvest the nut in the center. However, often the nut isn't ready...so I personally consider the hull and nut harvest as two different stages of getting fruit from the tree. The nut is better and easier to get to when the hull it starting to deteriorate.
Making the Tincture: You may use any alcohol to extract the medicinal properties from your walnut hulls. I prefer a high proof vodka or grain alcohol. However a rubbing alcohol could be used if you were only going to ONLY use it topically. A gin could also be used. I get a jar twice the size of the amount of tincture I plan to use and fill it half way with the alcohol. I also wear gloves because the walnuts stain your hands green or brown if you choose to cut them. I have read two ways to do it. You can be total low maintenance, fast and stain free by putting your walnuts in the jar whole and your are done. However, I like to cut my hulls off instead. Doing this allows me to put more media in the jar for extraction..and results are a stronger tincture. I simply get a sharp knife and cut all around the pit to take the hunks of skin and flesh away from the pit/nut. I never get as deep as the nut center because it is a firm hard hull to cut through. I drop each piece immediately into the alcohol because it likes to oxidize quickly. I fill it up half way with green hull pieces. I put the lid on and put it in a warm dark place to steep for 6 weeks. Than I strain it and bottle it in dark glass. (It is good to keep all tinctures out of the light. It preserve their properties/strength.)
The tincture will be a deep dark green when it is finished. Often when it is sold commercially it will be brown..but the dark green is actually a superior quality. Of course your cost is FAR less..you only have the cost of the alcohol.
This post was shared at Wildcrafting Wednesdays