Food Crops & Edibles

Walnuts are More Than Just a Healthy Food

“Wild Hickory Nuts” was a famous phrase from an old breakfast cereal commercial from the last century brought to us by an ancient forager.

The Walnut family offers a great finish to a year of harvest opportunities by storing their nuts for the winter. The Walnut family includes some of our most loved foods. Black walnuts (Juglans nigra), Hickory nuts, Pecans and Butternuts, natively speaking, are found and grow in North America. The California walnut is a variety of Carpathian walnut or English Walnut, Juglans regia, and is grown in temperate warm areas all over the world.

Walnut family trees have similar characteristics that make it a very desirable food source. Rich in antioxidants, good fats and minerals, recent research shows that nuts of all varieties but especially walnuts are the healthiest food available. A recent study discovered that healthy people who add nuts (unsalted) to their diets actually had a 20% less chance of dying from all types of chronic illness than those who did not eat nuts for those who were not allergic to them.

Other uses are for dye, (Black Walnut), although other walnut family members also produce dye colors in shades of brown and gray as well and of course all forms for beautiful walnut furniture.

According to the USDA:

Comparison of Nutrient Profile of English and Black Walnuts  
Nutrient (per 100 gram)English walnut seedBlack walnut seed
Carbohydrates (g)13.79.9
Protein (g)15.224.1
Unsaturated fatty acids (g)56.150.1
Poly to mono unsaturated
fatty acids ratio
Fiber (g)6.76.8
Calcium (mg)9861
Iron (mg)2.93.1
Zinc (mg)3.13.4
Vitamin B-6 (mg)0.540.58

Pretty impressive isn’t it? We really need to get those shells off the Black Walnuts! Below is an unusual and highly nutritious and historic recipe.

Hickory Nut Corn Pudding

1 ½ cup cooked corn
2 tablespoons nut butter (almond, hazelnut, etc)
2 beaten eggs 2 tablespoons fine cornmeal
½ cup Hickory or Walnuts
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup
¼ cup raisins

Mix everything together and pour into a well-greased casserole. Sprinkle top with more hickory nuts, Bake in oven at 350F Degrees for one hour.

Caron Wenzel is the owner of Blazing Star Inc. a native plant seed nursery and environmental consulting and education business. The web site is

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