The California Walnut Harvest 2010

by Robyn on October 19, 2010

black and white photo from 1927 of men sitting on 100 lb sacks of walnuts. This morning I saw a picture from USC Library about the walnut harvest in La Puente California in 1927. It caught my eye as I recently had the opportunity to attend the California Walnut Harvest Celebration 2010. It was a two day event sponsored by the California Walnut Association.

We had the pleasure of meeting celebrities, chefs and local walnut growers. Each in attendance had their reasons for being there. Some were Registered Dietitians, some were print media writers, one is head of a nationally known chef’s test kitchen, a cookbook author and there were those writers that publish on the internet.

One commonality to all of us was our desire to learn more about walnuts. How they’re grown, harvested, and distributed. We also wanted to know more about their health benefits, and their use in meals.

The Walnut Association did not disappoint. On every turn there were speakers, growers, chefs and enthusiasts willing to share the California walnut story. The information I will write about this wonderful experience cannot be reduced to a single post. I am a farm journalist. I write about the food we eat, the farmers who grow it and the way it is grown. I would be remiss if I left anything out about the best two days I spent in Sacramento. The food we ate was wonderful. The knowledge shared was beneficial. The farmers we met were gracious, kind, and generous. The women I spent those two days with were the best group of women. Friendships were made that just may last lifetimes.
First a little bit about walnuts. The walnut most of us purchase in the states is referred to as the English Walnut. It has exotic roots, and over 30 varieties of walnuts are now produced in the US. California the largest producers of walnuts in the world. In fact, California walnuts account for 99% of US walnuts and three-fourths of the world walnuts. They are harvested once a year in October. The trees are planted from seed and are 4-5 years old before they produce a marketable crop. Most trees are expected to bear fruit, in commercial production, for 30 years. The California Walnut Commission reports that in 2010, the California walnut crop is expected to produce 510,000 tons of walnuts, which is 17% more than 2009 and more than double the crop from 2000.

A walnut with hull dried out and peeled back ready to be shaken from the tree.


Walnuts are appreciated for their health benefits. They are packed with healthy nutrients. A handful of wlanuts 11-12 halves or an ounce, can provide you with 2.5 grams of ALA, the plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acid. That same ounce has 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and 10% of your daily needs of 10% of your daily value of magnesium and phosphorus. The anti-oxidant levels of an ounce of walnuts are second only to blackberries. If you are interested, the California Walnut Commission provides a pdf of their Nutrient Chart. It is packed with all the health information you need to make walnuts a great choice for you and your family.
Join me as we explore the world of California Walnuts this week. I’ll introduce you to some farmers, show you a couple of recipes and tell you about a fabulous restaurant that made an entire meal for us based around the walnut harvest!
a large pile of shelled walnuts ready to be boxed for wholesale delivery

{ 10 comments }

Robyn October 21, 2010 at 10:44 am

Thank you so much Paula! There are so many little factoids about the food we eat. Getting to know the growers and hearing them tell about the foods they grow is my favorite thing to do. This blog is such a great way to share that information with everyone. There will be plenty more pictures to come!

Robyn October 21, 2010 at 10:41 am

Hey there J Levinson! What I loved most about this trip was getting to know people like you. There were so many great people on the tour. The Association did a great job of putting it together.

Robyn October 21, 2010 at 10:40 am

Oh Deb. This was just plain fun. I’m going to do a follow-up on how we can all enjoy times like these. Watch for it soon!

Robyn October 21, 2010 at 10:39 am

Aviva, it was great meeting you and getting to learn about your cookbook and website! Summing up the trip was a task indeed. There was so much to talk about in such a small amount of time spent in the groves.

Thank you!

Robyn October 21, 2010 at 10:37 am

Hi Janel! Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy all of my posts about the Ca walnut tour!

Aviva Goldfarb October 20, 2010 at 6:39 pm

Robyn, thank you for summing the trip up so beautifully! I thought I learned a lot on the trip about walnuts but you must have absorbed 10 times as much information as I did. It was wonderful getting to know you amidst the walnut orchards.

Janel October 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm

What a great experience! Looking forward to reading more.

SMITH BITES October 20, 2010 at 6:53 am

What an opportunity Robyn – I am soooooo interested in this type of writing; learning as much as I can about where our food comes from, getting to know the farmers who grow my food, etc. Am looking forward to more of your experience!

Nutritioulicious October 19, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Robyn it was so great meeting you at the walnut harvest. I look forward to reading the rest of your posts about the trip – always cool to see the experience from other people’s eyes! I still have to get my pics and posts up — so much to write about!

Jessica

Paula October 19, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Oh I’m going to love the rest of your posts on the California Walnut. I love walnuts and funny how you can love something and know so little about it. I had no idea that there were 30 varieties produced in the U.A. alone of one of my favourite nuts. Nor did I know that California produces three-fourths of the world’s supply. That’s an amazing fact.
So glad that you enjoyed your Harvest Celebration and that you are going to share with us over the next few posts.
The picture of the walnut on the tree, I love it. I’ve never seen a walnut in its *original habitat* before.

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