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Care and handling of walnuts

Make the most of these delicious and healthy nuts

Our editors met with representatives from the California Walnut Board, who offered some interesting facts about walnuts. There are many health benefits. The American Heart Association certifies walnuts as a heart-healthy food, helping to lower LDL, or "bad", cholesterol by as much as 16 percent. Other health advantages include reduced inflammation and blood pressure.

Choosing the right kind of walnut affects taste. Black walnuts have a bolder, more acidic flavor. You can identify them by the thicker shells and the stain they leave on your hands. You'll likely find these walnut trees in backyard groves across the Eastern and Central U.S. English walnuts, which are also known as Persian walnuts, are more mild. The shells are thinner and easier to crack. English walnuts are the more commercial, common variety sold in stores. California grows 99 percent of the country's supply of these walnuts.

Buying Tips

In-shell walnuts:

  • Available in bags or bulk
  • Most readily available during the fall and winter months
  • Crack them right before they're going to be used

Shelled walnuts:

  • Available in bags or bulk
  • Sold as halves, halves and pieces, and pieces and chopped, among other forms Fresh walnuts taste and smell sweet and mildly nutty.

When walnuts are harvested, handlers keep them in cool, dry storage until they are shipped to retail stores.

Storage Tips

Store shelled walnuts in a sealed container in a cool place, with low moisture and away from sunlight. Refrigerator storage is good, but if you have larger quantities, freezer storage is best. Walnuts from opened packages keep well for up to six months when they are cold (refrigerator) stored in sealed containers. When kept in the freezer, walnuts are good to eat up to a year.

If you are going to use the walnuts right away, place them in your refrigerator or in a cool, dry pantry. If you will be storing them for a month or longer, store walnuts in your freezer.

Snacking and Cooking Tips

California walnuts are delicious eaten out-of-hand without any kind of cooking, preparation, or seasoning. Many people find that toasting can enhance the sweet, nutty flavor.

Toasting methods:

  • Bake walnuts on a cookie sheet, in a single layer, at 350-degrees F for 8- to 10- minutes, checking frequently.
  • Microwave walnuts in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate on medium-high for 5- to 6-minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.
  • Cook walnuts in a skillet at medium-high heat for 3- to 5-minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Regardless of method, walnuts can be toasted dry or with a dash of oil.

Blanching:

  • Add shelled walnuts to a pot of boiling water, remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 2 minutes, then drain.

For more information about walnuts, and tasty recipes, visit the California Walnut Board.

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