Walnuts add crunch and an earthy, rich flavor to baked goods, sauces and other dishes. They complement many sweet notes particularly well, such as those in sweet wines, caramel, maple syrup and bananas. However, walnut skins are high in tannins that impart a strong astringent taste. Removing the skins from these oddly shaped nut kernels is a time-consuming, generally unpleasant process. Blanching is the solution. Briefly heating walnuts in water loosens skins for easy removal.
A Quick Soak
Shell the walnuts with a nutcracker if they're still in the shell. Fill a saucepan with enough water to immerse all the walnuts, and bring it to a full boil over high heat. Add the walnuts to the water, turn off the burner and move the saucepan off the heat. Soak the walnuts for 2 minutes, using a timer -- don't keep them in longer, or they'll get too soft. Drain the nuts promptly in a strainer or colander. Then you can easily rub off the skins with a soft- or medium-bristled vegetable brush. To dry the nuts quickly, place them on a baking tray in a single layer and put them into the oven on its lowest temperature setting for about 10 minutes.
- Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images