Silly Food Fact
A walnut shell is round and wrinkly—the Greeks called it karyon, which means “head.” If you crack open this shell, the walnut kernel looks like a brain! That’s why the walnut was a symbol of intelligence in ancient times. The two major types of walnuts grown today are the English walnut (originated in Asia) and the Black walnut (native to the U.S.). Most all commercially sold walnuts are the English variety, and two-thirds of the world’s walnut crop is grown in California.
Why Our Bodies Love It
Walnuts are a super energy food with lots of nutrients. They contain at least 10 different antioxidants—more than any other nut—that provide powerful anti-aging benefits. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of cancer. A handful of these nuts also provides protein, fiber, vitamin E, and several essential minerals.
Care and Picking
How do walnuts grow? It takes about 7 years trees in a walnut orchard to start producing nuts. First, you’ll first see green hulls (about the size of a lime) hiding among the leaves. These hulls separate and crack—that’s the signal for harvest time. Inside the hulls are the wrinkly walnut shells, and inside these shells are the edible walnut kernels. Walnuts are harvested once a year in the fall with a big machine that grabs each tree trunk to shake all the walnuts to the ground.
Tips and Warnings
Walnuts are available year around in stores. Look for nuts with a bright brown color and a heavy feel. There are choices of unshelled, shelled, chopped, sweetened, and salted walnuts. Unshelled will keep for months in a cool, dry place. Keep shelled walnuts in an airtight container; to preserve maximum freshness, store in the refrigerator or freezer.