On of the most versatile of all nuts, – Walnuts, – originated in Persia and spread westward overtime. It thrives in countries with relatively temperate climates, and when properly cultivated, can live for centuries.
Walnut wood is much sought after for fine furniture, due to its intriguing patterns.
England, France, Spain and Italy are notable European producers, whereas the Caucasus, Armenia, and Georgia claim prominence and superior quality.
Turkey to the west also has a wide spread walnut wood production, no doubt started centuries ago by Armenian farmers who husbanded the fertile coils in much of the country.
In Canada, walnut production is limited to southern Ontario and British Columbia. Most of the trees are in private gardens, and rarely commercialized.
Canada imports almost all walnuts from California due to its proximity, consistency, and regularity of supply. A small fraction of walnuts originate in China, but the quality is inconsistent, inferior to the California product albeit less expensive.
The state of California’s mild climate and deep fertile soils provide the ideal growing conditions. California walnuts are large, plump, tan in colour, possess a rich, sweet nutty flavour, and are of superior taste.
Farmers grow 37 varieties, but only four are of commercial importance – Chandler, Hartley, Payne and Serr.
The first commercial plantings in California began in 1867 when Joseph Sexton, an orchardist and nurseryman in the Santa Barbara County town Goleta, planted English walnuts. For several years, walnuts were predominantly planted in southern California.
&0 years after Sexton’s first planting, the centre of California’s walnut production moved northwards to Stockton area in one of the most dramatic horticultural moves in history. Better growing areas improved irrigation, and better pest control methods int eh north resulted in increasingly larger yields.
The central valley of California is now the state’s prime walnut growing region. Its mild climate and deep fertile soils provide ideal growing conditions.
The state accounts for 99 per cent of the commercial American supply and 66 per cent of the world’s supply.
Walnuts are commercially grown throughout the Central valley in the Coastal Valleys from Redding in the north, to Bakersfield in the south. Current walnut acreage is more than 80 hectares.
After an orchard is planted, it takes approximately six to eight years
For to bear its first commercial yield. Constant attention is given to each tree- from pruning, spraying, and fertilizing to irrigation- to ensure a healthy orchard. Once the walnut tree has been planted and stabilized, it will continue to bear fruit for as long as a century.
Harvesting is largely automated. First the orchard floor is rolled or dragged clean of twigs, rocks and other debris. Then the nuts are removed from the tree by a mechanical shaker. After they have been shaken to the ground, walnuts are blown into a row to allow mechanical harvesters to pick them up for cleaning and hulling.
After hauling and washing, the walnuts are transferred into a hopper and mechanically dehydrated to the desirable eight-per-cent moisture level. This prevents and protects quality during storage.
Mechanical dehydration represents a major improvement over sun drying method formerly used.
Well-formed walnuts are bagged for the in-shell market. The walnuts are cleaned and readied for markets around the world where holiday cracking of walnuts is an age-old tradition. In-shell walnuts are classified as
by the U S D A.
Walnuts are unique as a nutrient-rich whole food source of alpha linoleic acid, an essential omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid and highly recommended to prevent cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and even for weight reduction.
It is best to buy walnuts in shell and shell just before consumption. Shelled walnuts tend to be rancid due to warm temperature storage in grocery stores.
Walnut oil, a specialty of France, is highly valued as a salad dressing ingredient, but must be used within a year of production and stored in a cool and dark place to prevent oxidation and rancidity.
Walnuts can be used in many dishes, including salads, main courses, desserts, and for out-of-hand eating. Particularly recommended for vegans and vegetarians in general
Sprinkle a handful of toasted walnuts on cereal or yoghurt, or them to in stir-fries. To salads, pastas, rice dishes, replace for pine nuts in pesto, or in baklava, include as part of texture contrast to cheese platters, mix ground walnuts into breadcrumbs, and sprinkle on vanilla ice cream topped with sliced bananas, and chocolate sauce.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.