Dehydrating to cure Shag Hickory Nuts (in shell)

I collected 110 nice shag bark hickory nuts today…

Based on experience with them, if you try to crack them now, they are still green, very hard to get the nut meat out, and flavor is not quite there yet. Once dried, cured ? what ever you call it, they crack out much better and taste much better.

All that I have collected so far I just let them set outside on our back porch where they get some morning sun and after about a month, they crack out nicely and taste very good.

Well today — this evening — I remembered that I got this very nice dehydrator for Christmas and I have not even used it yet. I have been wanting to try it out.

I looked online and found some info on “drying” nuts in the shell… Looks like the source for that is Michigan State University Extension… below is the link and what they recommended.


Small amounts of nuts in the shell can be dried in a furnace room or even on trays on a radiator providing the temperature do not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit will affect flavor and shorten storage life. Nuts will be dry in 24 to 48 hours.

Nuts in the shell can also be dried in a food dehydrator if the temperature can be adjusted low enough. Follow manufacturer’s directions. Unshelled nuts will dry in 8 to 10 hours in a food dehydrator

So I have my 110 shagbark nuts (in the shell) in my fancy dehydrator… at 95 degrees for 16 hours.

Seemed like a reasonable way to start out.

Do any of you have experience at drying or curing hickory nuts in the shell, in a food dehydrator ?

There are really only two options… Temp, and Time… and my Temp will adjust down below 100… and I have it set on 95 now.

Any recommendations based on experience at this ?




I have used a dehumidifier to dry nuts with excellent success. This does NOT heat the nuts, just sucks the moisture out of them. It takes between 3 and 7 days depending on nut type and size of room they are in. I have not used a dehydrator, mostly because I have way too many nuts for the size dehydrator I own.

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@Fusion_power … my dehydrator looks like it will accommodate 600 or so shag nuts… and that will do for these small amounts I am finding while foraging this winter.

I will try cutting one after this 16 hour run at 95 degrees and see how works out. May have to go longer… can try another 8 hours and try again.

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Ok… after 16 hours at 95 degrees… here is what the shag nuts looked like.

The shell on most had a split along the suture on one side. Some do that when I slow dry them… but not nearly as high percentage as this.

I split several with my usual method knife and hammer. They split easily into nice halfs.

I then cut them to extract the nut meat… and got most out in quarters… but they were a little stubborn still… like they needed more dry time.

I think I will give them another 8 hours… and test again.

I ate all those and they tasted excellent.

I think next time I try this again from the start… I will lower the heat to 90 and increase the time to 24 or so.



Well… 95 is as low as my dehydrator heat setting will go… I ran that batch another 8 hours at 95… then tried them again.

They looked good split nicely… the nut meat came out much better than green… and tasted great. They had some noticable crunch to them that was not there before… and good hickory flavor.

After 24 hours total at 95 degrees… they seem to be ready for storing. I may try vaccume sealing some in Mason jars… may store some in mesh bags…

For small batches of nuts foraged late fall or winter… 24 hours at 95 seems to cure them pretty well. I will leave some of them in storage until spring and then try them again.

Will report the results.



Any pointers for Chestnuts? They are extremely prone do getting moldy if not dried properly but also prone to being excessively dried out.

@alan … sorry no experience with chestnuts.

24 hours at 95 degrees seems to do a good job of drying out (but not cooking) shag and mocker hickory nuts.

I have vaccume sealed in a wide mouth Mason jar a quart of each… and will leave them sealed up until April… and see how they turn out.

I am sure I will forage more this winter.

I dont plan to grow chestnuts … a little too high in carbs for me… may try some hazelnuts.

Ps… my 6 tray dehydrator… I loaded each tray yesterday densely but only one layer deep in shag and mocker nuts… a little over 700 nuts processed at one time.

I’m always concerned that those split/cracked nuts are going to go rancid more rapidly, so I’m never in a hurry for them to cure. I don’t even like to have them in a sunny spot on the front porch after collection, as they tend to split and crack.

I agree @Lucky_P … the nut shell splitting is a concern to me.

I have a big bowl full of those that I will eat over the next few weeks or months… and see if they do go bad.

I have 2 quarts of those vaccume sealed… in Mason jars… will try them after I have eaten all others… and see if vaccume sealing them keeps them good longer.

Good experiment!
Be sure to let us know your findings

Split and cut these today…

Very good… great hickory nut flavor… noticeably a bit more crunchy… than before and I like that… wife too.

Some nice shellbark nut chunks in there @Lucky_P

I was hoping to find some Shellbark Trees here in my county… but found this the other night…

That “red” dot down there in southern middle TN, is Me.

The shaded areas are Native Range of Shellbark Hickory.

Looks like most of KY has Shellbark (Native Range) but a lot of TN does not.

Since they don’t seem to be Native to my County… and only in the far distant edge of one of my neighboring counties… seems pretty slim to none chance of me finding any here, or growing any here.

There are plenty of nice Shagbark trees here and i can be happy with those.


23 days later and those shagbark hickory nuts that I dehydrated (to at least partially cure) are still tasting great…even though the nut shell split some on most in the dehydration process.

No off taste at all and nice crunch.

Split and cut more of those shagbark nuts this eve… new compound diagonal cutter makes that much easier… still tasting great with nice crunch.