To collect wild nuts, first learn about the edible nuts that grow in your area, and then head into a wooded area in the autumn and collect fallen nuts off the ground. Dry the nuts, and store them in a cool, dark area for later use. Some nuts, such as black walnuts and butternuts, have a leathery outer husk; remove this husk before drying the nuts.
Black walnuts, butternuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts and hickory nuts are all nuts that grow wild in the United States. Black walnuts ripen in September and October. After some nuts have fallen, shake the tree or hit nut clusters with a long stick to get more ripe nuts to fall. Remove the outer brownish-green husk with gloved hands to avoid staining your fingers. Let the nuts air dry for two weeks before storing. Butternuts are similar to black walnuts and are harvested and processed the same way.
Chestnuts ripen from mid-September to late November. They fall from the tree inside spiny burrs that open when the nut is ripe. Gather open burrs, remove the chestnuts, and store them in airtight containers in the freezer or refrigerator to reduce the risk of rancidity.
Hazelnuts typically ripen in October. Hazelnut trees are smaller than many other nut trees, sometimes taking a bushy form, and it is often possible to harvest nuts directly from the tree after some have started to fall. Remove the hazelnut's papery husk before storing the nuts.