Have you ever seen black walnuts? When they fall off the tree, they are surrounded by large green fruit husks that are very tough. Both those green balls and the leaves have a pungent aroma. Is it worth taking the trouble to get to the nutmeat?
Memories of Black Walnuts:
Q. I grew up in the Missouri Ozarks where wild black walnut trees abounded and I enjoyed them each year in late fall. We had to remove the dried husks (being dry told us they were ready!) and then cracked them with a claw hammer. Cracking them in this manner took special skills, as hitting them too hard would destroy the nut meats inside. We became skilled at carefully opening them just enough to remove perfect walnut halves, a premium treat for snacking and highly coveted by our moms for baking delectable holiday treats, such as Mrs. Johnson’s walnut/date pinwheel cookies.
I now eat about three tablespoons of black walnuts with each bowl of breakfast cereal along with a couple of teaspoons of dried currants, two teaspoons of dried cranberries and maybe a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses. My question is whether there is any difference between the two types of walnuts in terms of their heart benefits. They have very different flavors. I prefer the stronger flavor of the Missouri Ozark nuts myself.
A. We appreciate your reminiscence and wish we had a recipe for Mrs. Johnson’s cookies. Your breakfast cereal adornments sound delicious and very healthful. We have heard previously about using the fruit husk topically to fight ringworm.
Differences Between Walnut Types:
There are some differences between English walnuts (Juglans regia) and black walnuts (Juglans nigra). About ten years ago, Wisconsin scientists found that an ounce of English walnuts maintained the flexibility of blood vessels after a high-fat meal (Journal of Medicinal Food, Sep. 2011). The same amount of black walnuts did not.
However, the phytonutrients in black walnuts may have anticancer activity (Molecules, Oct. 2020). Apparently the phenolic compounds that give them their distinctive flavor are responsible for antioxidant and anti-cancer activity. You can’t get that from just any breakfast!