Some random facts about walnuts in France, including their health benefits, when in season, recipe links and ideas of how best to use them.
Autumn and Winter; From October-March but high season is between October and December.
Random Facts about Walnuts
- France is one of the biggest walnut producers in Europe, of which the most famous regions are the Périgord, Ardèche and Grenoble (Noix de Grenoble has had AOC quality status since 1938);
- Known as noix (pronounced: nwah), the French put them in/on cakes, make vin de noix (walnut liqueur) and huile de noix (walnut oil);
- The inside nut of the walnut is called a kernel, known as 'cerneaux' in French;
- Health Benefits: According to Aprifel, walnuts are an excellent source of fibre, copper, Vitamin B9, magnesium (plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation) and helps reduce blood cholesterol. They're also a good source of protein (15g per 100g/30% daily intake);
- Fresh or dried walnuts are particularly popular in high season in October and November. Fresh nuts need to be consumed quickly (store 2-3 days in the fridge) and dried walnuts can be kept at room temperature for 2-3 weeks. However, mouldy walnuts have to be discarded;
- How to pick the best walnuts at the market: listen to them if you shake the shell around: if the nut moves inside it's a sign it has dried out so avoid these.
How to Eat Walnuts
- Food Associations: Great with cheese, beetroot, broccoli/cauliflower, apple, pear, banana ...
- Tip: I like to toast dried walnuts (in the oven or dry fry in a frying pan) to bring out their natural flavour and store in an airtight jar.
Savoury: toss them on cheeseboards, particularly with roquefort cheese, on salads, gratins, quiches, mushroom tart, beetroot risotto, pasta dishes. Even on this cauliflower cream soup!
Sweet: top them on banana bread, apple crumble, brownies, brownie crumble cookies. Delicious in the walnut, maple and salted caramel tart from my book, Teatime in Paris! See recipes below, plus in homemade maple granola.