Greetings from San Francisco! I’m here for the Food Buzz Festival which starts tomorrow. But I came in a day early because I got a very special invitation to attend a walnut harvest.
It’s not often I get invited to a walnut harvest. So, when the folks from the California Walnut Commission invited me to tour the Mariani Nut Company’s orchards, I was pretty darn excited.
Myself and about a dozen other bloggers headed out to the orchard. I was struck by how large the orchard was. Row after row of trees full of nuts and a ton of nuts already on the ground.
Apparently some of the nuts had already been shaken off their branches and were awaiting pick up.
We all tried to not step on them. Each time I did, I dropped to the ground to find the shell I violated, cracked it the rest of the way open and popped the meat into my mouth. Waste not, want not, as the say.
We watched as the machines came down the rows. With a gripper arm, the machine would shake the trees so violently that the earth trembled beneath our feet. My teeth even chattered. Walnuts flew off the trees like fireworks, going every which way and had me ducking my head more than a few times.
We were encouraged to eat the freshly harvested walnuts which were so buttery and satisfying.
I’ve always enjoyed walnuts. Besides tasting good, they are good for you. The American Heart Association has certified walnuts as a heart healthy food. Foods that receive this distinction need to meet certain nutritional standards.
High in antioxidants, protein, vitamins, fiber and a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are not only delicious, but an excellent choice to fuel and sustain your body.
For lunch we had recipes that featured the star of the show. Roasted veggies with penne and walnuts, butternut squash soup with a walnut garnish and a killer fruit tart sprinkled with, you guessed it, walnuts.
So incredibly delicious!
After lunch we toured the Mariani processing plant to see the nuts go from whole in the shell to packaged for sale. I learned so much about how much work goes into processing walnuts. The goal is to cleanly split the nut in half to collect to complete halves. When that doesn’t happen, those crushed and broken pieces are used for baking nuts.
Pieces that can’t be used as baking nuts are ground into walnut meal. Even the shells are sent off to be used by another industry. Absolutely nothing goes to waste.
It was a great day. There is something quite satisfying about tasting something straight off the branch. It certainly made me appreciate it much more.
The way it tasted. How hard it was to open. Especially what a production it was to harvest.
It was a very delicious experience. And now I’m highly inspired to use walnuts more often after listening to all of the health benefits. Food that tastes good and that is good for you is a real win-win proposition.
The folks at California Walnuts want to inspire you too. On their website, they have recipes developed by acclaimed chefs that will help you create restaurant quality, walnut based dishes in your own home. If you enjoy walnuts as much as I do, definitely check it out!
This is not a sponsored post. The California Walnut Commission did provide lunch. All thoughts and opinions are my own.