On Saving Gingko Nuts

Last year our gingko tree produced a massive crop of nuts leading to the question of how to preserve them. I carefully washed and dried the unshelled nuts and put them into sealed plastic containers. Some I stored in the pantry, some in the fridge, and some in the freezer.
Click the picture above for information about how much work it is to process fresh gingko nuts. You can see some of the steps necessary to follow in the pictures below.

dry on cookie sheets

inner skin

simmering nuts

water evaporated

The nuts saved on the counter lasted about 1 month and then developed black fuzzy mold. The nuts in the fridge lasted until after the New Year, about 3 or 4 months before they developed a bit of white dust. It rinsed off easily, and they tasted good, but when it became fuzzy I tossed the remainder of them.

The nuts in the freezer are mold free and the shells are intact. But when I soaked the nuts and removed the brown inner skins, the nuts themselves were yellowish; some were even shriveled. See the third picture (links to my post about gingko trees and lore) to see how round and green truly fresh gingko nuts look.

I boiled them a good long time, and they absorbed some of the water so they plumped up. They were chewy and while they retained a little gingko-ness, they were not the ephemeral seasonal gingkos.

They are be fine to add to a hot pot, or soup, or steamed with vegetables because they would add a nice texture, but they are a sorry memory of a bountiful autumn.

Note that they were not so different from these vacuum-packed “fresh” gingko nuts from China I once tried:

Our lovely gingko tree put out fresh leaves last March when the temperatures reached unbelievable highs in the 80°F to 90°F range followed by a few weeks of normal deep cold freezing weather. The leaves died and fell off causing me to worry that our tree would also die. It’s so beautiful. But by mid-June, most of the branches had recovered, sprouting new leaves. The harvest of nuts, however will be scarce come October.


15 thoughts on “On Saving Gingko Nuts

  1. Hi Tess,

    Given the changes in the frozen nuts, I’d guess that the shells are microporous. This might be overcome by rubbing the shells with olive oil just before freezing (or maybe dunking them and letting them drain). Once frozen the oil becomes waxy, and will stay where it was put. It should ensure the nuts don’t lose their moisture.

    I use this method to protect delicate herbs in the freezer, and I’ve currently got two bags of chopped shallots, in waxy, olive oil, balls – just drop the bag on the floor to break up the ball and take out some shallots.

  2. You could be right: there is no info online about preserving the “nuts.” Could also be they are like so many things in life which one cannot save effectively.

    • They are like gems! I found online that there are a few ginkgo trees in Israel:

      Jerusalem Botanical Gardens: collection of spice and medicinal plants
      1 tree
      main street of one of the residential areas of North East Jerusalem (Givath Shapira)
      c.40 trees on both sides of street (as an alley)
      Beer Sheva (Negev desert)
      City Hall
      1 tree, 10 m, 6″ diam., planted in 1970 by the city agronomist Gideon Shutz.

  3. Tess I remember your post and bounty from last year! And the jewel like green. I have only seen the packaged sort here and they didn’t look tempting- nothing like your vivid green. Our ginkgo isn’t fertile so no nuts for us although I love the leaves enough to nurse it through hot summers. Are you still getting hot days?
    We had our first sea swim last week.

  4. What a beautiful sky in that photograph! I like the idea of an inland sea. I imagine you swam pretty fast if it was that cold though!

    • No salt in our “inland sea” but plenty of cold whenever!

      It’s still dry here but the AC is no longer needed and nights are comfortable, though Mr. Tess and the daughter each want lots of blankets while I want the window open sleeping under a sheet only. I always wanted to be a “hot chick” and now I am.

  5. We once swam in a volcano in Northern Australia. The air temperature was suffocatingly hot but the water in the crater was heart-stopping cold. I wonder if it was the depth or the stone that made it so cold. Did you swim Tess or just Mr Tess and Little Tess?
    I am a hot chick too. Sometimes I sneak the window open otherwise it’s the one foot out of the covers technique.

  6. I think I’ve had ginko nuts…in a Chinese herbal soup. Honest if I’ve had them cooked in dishes I didn’t know what it was at that time. Yea, I’ve eaten stuff as a kid and then find out decades later what it was. :) Obviously being an overly fussy eater in a kid was not possible in our family. (We were a large, poor family in Canada.)

    • You very well ate them without noticing. To me, they don’t have so much flavor as texture. If you eat them plain with salt, then you would know you ate them. But if they were in a soup with vegetables and noodles, or a stir fry or custard, they were probably subtle. Sort of like gummy bear candy without the sugar, or sort of like chestnuts but chewy and small. Or like edamame (green soy beans) in size and maybe color, but chew-y or gummy. It is difficult to describe. Is “funny nuts” an oxymoron?

      The tree we have is beautiful, and its leaves are fan-shaped or shaped like paw prints. One tree produces various kinds of leaves. It is still early-ish October but I expect our tree to turn yellow soon and within a day or two it will be golden if we have sunshide. It will hold its leaves for another day or so, then they will rain down almost all at once leaving the odd branches bare.

      Somehow I’ve never known that you grew up in Canada!

      • Yup then I’ve had gingko nuts, based on your description. Honest, I can’t imagine I sound as if I was born somewhere else outside of North America. I have too many mannerisms that brand me as North American-bred. But not totally mainstream- European.

        • LOL: you are so adventurous. And brave. Daring to travel all over. I think you are a citizen of the world. Me: I’m just going to Philadelphia and I’m already in a panic. :-(

  7. hello all!

    thank you for the info, for the careful record of observation.

    such posts are the gems of the internet age; they are useful to so many people, for so many reasons.

    i myself only lately discovered gingko, which grows all over Oakland, California: the city fathers decided to plant it and horse chestnut, i guess to liven things up in downtown; i ran into an official resolution regarding this recently, as i went to verify a location for horse chestnut before physically hunting it. i did not know that gingko nuts were even edible; this makes me very happy.

    thank you. if i find a good way to preserve them, i will tell you.

    have a wonderful moment or two more than however many you consider average, unless of course that’s all of them, in which case wow, you are enlightened, and i don’t know in what linguistic garb to dress the closing part of this comment, (considering what it has on now, i doubt i have any clothes on hand that would match).

    ……….smiles, from one good cook to another

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