Strawberry, Mozzarella and Walnut Salad

Whether topping off a banana split, chopped up in a salad or jutting out of a chewy brownie, the walnut always win the best supporting actor category. Adding texture and richness to a variety of dishes, they make eating healthy taste great.

Walnut Benefits

A walnut is a tidy package of nutrients wrapped up in a formidable shell. Once you crack its armor, the walnut fulfils many of your dietary needs:

  • The skin of a walnut contains the majority of the nut’s antioxidants, which help fight cancer-causing free-radicals and cellular damage.

  • Many recipes call for the removal of the slightly bitter, waxy skin. While this may enhance the flavor or texture of the dish, it also reduces the amount of nutrients.

  • Walnuts contain an abundance of omega-3s, helping to improve cardiovascular health.

  • Walnuts are a good source of copper, magnesium and biotin.

  • Vitamin E can be found in walnuts and helps protect against heart disease, cancer and promotes eye health.

  • The recommended serving of walnuts is one ounce per day, or seven whole walnuts.

  • Because nuts are high in calories, it is important to balance the health benefits with your caloric needs for the day.

SEE MORE: 15 Recipes with Nuts

Growing Walnuts

Cultivating walnut trees is not as simple as planting a seed and harvesting in a few months. Patience and diligence is important for a successful harvest.

  • A walnut sapling will not be mature enough for harvesting until five to seven years after it is planted.

  • A walnut can be planted with the husk on or off, but a lack of husk may speed the germination process.

  • The nut should be planted three inches under the soil in the fall. A young sapling can also be planted in the desired location.

  • Be aware of surrounding plants. The walnut tree’s roots produce a toxic substance called juglone, which is poisonous to other plants.

  • Trees can be planted by themselves or in a stand, at least 20 feet apart.

  • A whopping 38 percent of walnuts are grown in the United States, 90 percent of which are grown in California.

  • Six varieties of walnuts make up the majority grown in California: Tulare, Serr, Chandler, Hartley, Howard and Vina.

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 Harvesting Walnuts

After the tree has reached maturation, you will finally be able to harvest your walnuts.

  • Harvesting should occur in late August through November.

  • Tennis ball-shaped husks surround the nut and fall to the ground.

  • Walnuts remaining in the trees may be shaken down and collected.

  • When the trees have dropped their walnuts, a harvesting machine gathers them from the ground.

  • In commercial processing, the hull is removed by dehydration and stored until cracked or packed.

  • Walnuts can be sold with or without the shell.

  • Shelled walnuts are cracked, inspected for quality and sorted by size and color.

Walnut Storage

Walnuts are wonderful to have on hand for a snack, appetizer or to use in a recipe.

  • Shelled walnuts can be stored in the refrigerator for six months or the freezer for up to a year.

  • Unshelled walnuts should be stored in the refrigerator or in a cool, dry, dark place for up to six months.

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With so many health benefits, it’s no wonder walnuts are a popular nut for cooking and snacking. Used as a garnish, candied or roasted, walnuts can be found in numerous dishes. Check out these sweet and savory walnut recipes.


Strawberry, Mozzarella and Walnut Salad

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