Walnuts have a well-documented archaeological history back to the New Stone Age (Neolithic period) 8000 BC to Persia, Turkey, Italy and the Mesolithic Period in Switzerland.
Their origins in recorded history go back to the hanging gardens of Babylon, they are also mentioned in the code of Hammurabi, the well preserved ancient Babylonian code of law which is one of the oldest translated and deciphered written records dating back to the 1750’s BC.
There is a certain amount of confusion as to the various types of walnuts the black, the English and the Californian, as with many cultivars the originals in nature are different to the varieties we are familiar with today. The black walnut tends to have a stronger flavour and the kernel is encased in a much thicker stronger shell than the more common varieties, the Californian and English.
The English walnut has been selectively bred to increase the size and reduce the shell thickness to make the kernel more accessible.
The English walnut is thought to have derived its name as English merchants introduced it to many different locations around the world. Walnuts grown by Franciscan monks became known as mission walnuts.
The Greeks selectively bred the Persian walnut to increase its size, the work of the Greeks and the English developed the humble walnut to what we know today. The English and Californian walnut tends to have a milder flavour than the black walnut and as mentioned before it is easy to separate the kernel from the shell.
Walnut trees are a prolific producer of fruit, as strange as it may seem walnuts are by definition a fruit of the drupe variety which has flesh surrounding what is sometimes called a pit with an edible seed inside. Walnuts are in the same category of fruit as peaches, plums, cherries, almonds and pecans; they just happen to be a fruit of which we eat the seed rather than the flesh that surrounds the seed.
It is interesting to note that the walnut tree has sustained life for desperate people in times of shortage in the form of kernels and a milk produced by crushing and soaking in water; we appear to have gone full circle as walnuts and walnut milk are becoming popular in smoothies.
Walnuts contain omega3, magnesium, calcium, potassium, fibre and are a rich source of vitamin E which supports heart health and cholesterol balance. They are also a rich source of antioxidants which support overall good health mopping up free radicals, which are health compromising and accelerate the aging process. The walnut kernel has the appearance and shape of the human brain, interesting that something with the appearance of a brain produces health benefits for the brain.
Walnuts support healthy hair as they contain vitamin B7 that mitigates hair loss, supports rich strong hair growth. Another interesting use for walnut flesh is rubbing into scratched wooden furniture to restore its appearance.
Note of caution: storage of walnuts comes with a risk of spoilage; they may become rancid, bitter with an unpleasant smell. They may be stored in the fridge or freezer to prolong their life.
1 cup of dates chopped
(or any fruit) 1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
Melt the above then let cool
Add and mix in 1 cup brown sugar
1 cup walnuts chopped
1 lemon rind and juice
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pour into loaf tin and bake at 180ºc for 45-55 mins or until it springs back when pressed.