Interesting Walnut Facts

October 26, 2010

interesting facts about walnutsA couple of weeks ago the California Walnut Commission invited me (along with 14 other food and nutrition bloggers) to the yearly Walnut Harvest Festival in Sacramento, California. Over the course of the day and a half I was in California, I learned so much about walnuts and ate a whole lot of them too! My next few posts will be dedicated to what I learned and of course I’ll be sharing the culinary experience as well!

Before I tell you all about the harvest and the delicious meals, did you know that:

  • Walnuts are the oldest known tree food — they date back to 10,000 BC!
  • English walnuts (also known as Persian walnuts) originate in Central Asia and were introduced to California in the 1700s.
  • 99% of the commercial U.S. supply and 3/4 of the world trade of walnuts now come from California.
  • Walnuts have always been considered important for their medicinal properties, including curing bad breath, reducing inflammation, and healing wounds.
  • More recently the nutritional benefits of walnuts have become well-known, especially their omega-3 fatty acid content.
  • The Greeks called walnuts karyon, meaning “head,” because the shell resembles a human skull and the walnut kernel itself looks like a brain!
  • Like today, a common culinary use of walnuts in the 17th-19th centuries was in salads.
  • Walnuts are only harvested once a year, between September and November.
  • California has about 227,000 walnut-bearing acres, and in 2010 the walnut crop is expected to be 510,000 short tons, a record production!
  • There are more than 30 varieties of commercially produced walnuts!

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  1. Hi Jessica, Thanks for all the great information regarding walnuts. We grow walnuts on our farm in Caruthers, CA. We finished harvesting our Chandler’s last week and were blessed with a good crop. Thanks for teaching me more about walnuts.

    1. Hi Jean, that’s great that you harvest walnuts! How long have you been doing that for? Chandlers are yummy! Thanks for stopping by my blog and reading!

  2. I have a huge bag of walnuts which was left out of the freezer and now has that oily smell and taste…is there anything I can do to restore them to YUMMY?

    1. Hi Bonnie,
      Given that they smell and taste oily, my guess is that they were out of the freezer for a while. I would toss them.

  3. When crackiing my walnuts this year I have found that most of them have shriveled kernels. How did this happen, what is the cause and how do I prevent it from happening again