Walnut trees are both a valuable source of food and wood and come in several varieties. Some produce beautiful nuts, perfect for eating. Others are much sought-after for their furniture-grade hardwood.
We have both sorts on our farm — but we didn’t realise that when we planted them. Now that I’m older and a little wiser, I appreciate the joys of having these abundant and beautiful trees on my doorstep.
Here are a few reasons why I’m so pleased to have walnuts in my life.
Walnuts Keep You Healthy
Walnuts are a rich source of monounsaturated fats and an excellent source of those hard to find omega-3 fatty acids. We’re always being told how essential these are to keep your heart healthy.
They’re chock-full of minerals too, including magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron. What a lot you can get just by eating a few walnuts every day.
Like most nuts, walnuts can easily be added into your diet.
The easiest way is to simply eat a handful raw each day. Or chop them up and add a handful to your favorite salad, vegetable dish, fruit, or dessert.
But if you get bored with that, or someone in your family doesn’t like eating them raw, here are some of my favourite recipes to try.
Black Walnut is the variety many craftsmen use to build beautiful, richly-coloured furniture. But it is by no means the easiest of woods to use.
Walnut trees have a lot of branches and a thick layer of sapwood between their bark and the inner wood which is called the heartwood.
All those branches plenty of knots in the wood which may or may not be a problem for you.
At worst the knots might shrink and fall out, which could weaken the wood. At best they’ll add texture, variety and beauty to your furniture. Often, it’s simply a matter of taste.
Walnut wood can have many variations in colour too. That, and the wide, lighter sapwood ring can make it tricky for a craftsman to work with walnut wood. That’s why some people prefer to layer a walnut veneer on top of another base wood. Many harvested trees actually go to veneer makers rather than being sliced up for timber.
One day, when our trees are past their fruiting best, I hope that we’ll preserve them as a lovely table or dresser.
Can You Really Do This?
I tried this with both a freshly picked nut and a dried nut. The dried nut didn’t have any effect on the scratch on my table, but the fresh nut did reduce it a bit. Not quite as well as in the video, I must say.
New Zealand Walnuts
Walnuts are becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand and the NZ Walnut Industry Group has an interesting website.