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Cracking the case on walnuts

Nov./Dec. 2016 California Bountiful magazine





History reveals that walnuts originated in ancient Persia and eventually were traded along the Silk Route between Asia and the Middle East. This introduced the walnut to English merchant marines, who delivered walnuts for trade to ports around the world. Although walnut varieties are known as English or Persian because of this history, today walnuts grown in California capture three-quarters of the world market.

The walnut has been the nut of choice longer than any other type of tree food, according to the California Walnut Commission, and dates back to 7,000 B.C. The deciduous trees can live up to 150 years and can extend more than 50 feet tall.

  • Juglans regia is the botanical name of the English walnut tree, which is raised commercially for wood products as well as its nuts.
  • California walnut growers are expected to produce a record crop of 670,000 tons in 2016.
  • Of the walnut crop grown in California, about 63 percent is sold overseas to markets such as China. The remainder, an estimated 37 percent, is sold in the domestic market. California supplies 99 percent of U.S.-grown walnuts.
  • Walnuts are traditionally used as an ingredient for baking, but reports about their many health benefits are expected to increase interest in walnuts as a snack item.
  • In addition to antioxidants and ALA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid, an ounce of walnuts provides 2 grams of protein and 8 percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber. Walnuts are also a good source of magnesium and phosphorus. 

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