Many grand walnut trees grow around Hobart. Recently a friend F moved from one property to another; from one with a walnut to another. Both have been prolific and this year’s harvest was no exception. ‘Would I like a bag?’, she asked. ‘Of course’, I replied. Then, taking our cues from the needs for social distancing, she dropped off a very large bag outside my house.
I remember my first experiences of walnuts. They were special items in a Christmas gift given to my father each year when I was a child: they came in a mass-produced small box with a variety of seeds still in their shells. Since then I have not seen a Brazil nut in its odd shaped shell. Back then, I was fascinated and remember all the shells were way too hard for me to crack open, despite my best efforts. Dad would enjoy wrestling with the nut cracker until shells flew and the seeds were revealed; meanwhile Mum hastily grabbed the dustpan and broom and swept up the detritus whining ‘try not to make a mess’.
So it occurs to me that some of my readers might not be familiar with the hard wooden casing of walnuts, and only familiar with the broken pieces of walnut flesh from Californian trees that are packaged for our supermarkets (despite Australian farmers growing these trees for market).
The walnut fits within a shell of two parts; there is a seam around the girth and this is the weakest point. This is where you need to apply pressure with your nut cracker. Crunch too hard and you crush the fruit inside and will have difficulty separating out the wood. Crunch too little and you crack part of the shell and the walnut inside can’t be released. I have no idea how the mass producers make the crack and the separation considering the difficulties I experience despite the care I take.
What do you get if you crack open the shell perfectly? You get an undamaged walnut which has a slim wooden membrane down through its brain-like folds, which was attached to the outer shell.
If you carefully pull the walnut in half you can lift off this membrane.
Then you can eat. I have been inventing more walnut based pestos to mix with my vegetables. There will be no waste. But I have a long way to go before this bag load will be used.
Medical News Today explains ‘they are a good source of healthful fats, protein, and fibre. They may enhance heart and bone health and help in weight management. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, 1 cup of unbranded, organic walnuts (30 grams) contains:
- Energy: 200 calories
- Carbohydrate 89 grams (g)
- Sugar: 1 g
- Fibre: 2 g
- Protein: 5 g
- Fat: 20 g
- Calcium: 20 milligrams (mg)
- Iron: 0.72 mg
- Sodium: 0 mg
Walnuts are also a good source of:
- vitamin B6
They are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also a good source of protein. Nuts have a reputation for being a high-calorie and high-fat food. However, they are dense in nutrients and provide heart-healthy fats.’
As a vegan, walnuts help to provide me with a balanced diet. So this was a wonderful gift.