Whipping up demand for California Walnuts

Did you know that the texture on the outside of the walnut whip, of one of the UK’s favourite items of confectionery, is known as a skeuomorph? The word is compounded from skeuos, meaning “container or tool”, and morphḗ, meaning “shape”. It has been applied to material objects since 1890 and is now also used to describe computer and mobile interfaces.

Launched in 1910 by Duncan’s of Edinburgh, the Walnut Whip is Nestlé Rowntree’s oldest current brand. Over one million walnuts, are used every week in the manufacture of Walnut Whips at Halifax, West Yorkshire, and California has been supplying quality walnuts for their production over the years. The original Walnut Whip contained walnuts that had been broken during handling and transportation and were therefore not suitable to be placed on the top. It was later marketed with an extra walnut on top, and subsequently the walnut inside was removed to leave one singular walnut outside.

California Walnuts See’s the opportunity

Over in the US, See’s Candies is an American manufacturer and distributor of sweets (candy) particularly chocolates. It was founded by Charles See in 1921. The company is now headquartered in San Francisco, California. His wife Mary created many of the recipes for the new confectionery and they traded from their original shop in Los Angeles. By the mid 1920’s they operated from 12 shops and by the time the great depression hit the US by the end of the 1920’s See’s Candies operated 30 shops.

Sees moved to South San Francisco in 1936 to take advantage of the cooler weather and to produce creams and truffles which represented 60% of annual sales.

See’s chocolate has a distinctive rich flavour using French methods comes from Guittard Chocolate Co. in Burlingame CA, and many of See’s products contain California walnuts which are grown relatively close by.

Chocolates and walnuts are an excellent combination and work is being conducted in California to further lengthen the shelf life of confectionery products containing walnuts. The soft crunch and creamy texture of California walnuts provides an excellent partnership with chocolate and more and more confectionery based products are being launched around the globe containing California walnuts.

When it Comes to the crunch

“Chocolate and walnuts are a perfect pairing” says Mickael Jahan, a leading development chef in the UK with many years’ experience working with walnuts. “California walnuts are not bitter so the taste and texture in couverture chocolate is very subtle” he adds.

“Most people would typically expect other nuts such as almonds or brazils to be covered in chocolate, however both nuts have a very unique crunch requiring more pressure to break the nut in the mouth. Walnuts are quite different, and although they do have a crunch it is significantly softer and the nut itself creamier, creating a unique taste experience”.

Peter Meadows from The Garden Marketing & PR, the trade representative for California walnuts in the UK, says: “Our overall goal is to communicate that California walnuts offer a number of attributes, over other origins – great taste, consistency, outstanding food safety, ideal for flavouring and texture profiles, always high quality and available all year. California walnuts are so incredibly flexible that they can enhance the taste and texture of a wide range of products including, of course, confectionery. We want manufacturers to understand why they should specify California as their origin of choice”.

In terms of health benefits, California walnuts can add to a product’s nutritional profile. Proven research in the *EU resulted in the claim that ‘a handful of walnuts a day (30 grams) can have a positive effect on the elasticity of the blood vessels and can thus help with keeping the cardiovascular system healthy’.

California Walnuts are nutrient dense and a source of vitamins and minerals. California Walnuts are the only tree nut that offer an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid. As one of the best plant food sources of omega-3s, (a 30 gram serving [a handful] of California walnuts provides 2.7 grams of ALA, 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fibre).

Going More (Wal)nuts

With the UK seen as a market for innovative new products, more walnut-based products are seeing increasing success.

Recently California walnuts have been working closely with BNUTZ, an artisan nut butter producer based in Surrey, creating a product that contains California Walnuts as one of the core ingredients.

Also, in mainland Europe, some headway has been made in developing nut butters on an industrial basis with leading manufacturers, as well as walnuts integrated into cheeses, yoghurts, chocolates and other confectionery items. In addition, cereal manufacturers are also interested in increasing their mixes and nutritional profiles with California walnuts.

Why California Walnuts?

The central valley in California provides ideal conditions to sustainably grow premium quality walnuts. Walnuts from California are generally lighter in colour and have a sweet-mild taste with a soft creamy texture, which makes them a versatile ingredient for flavour profiles, and texture in recipes as well as processed products.

Despite the recent challenging global situation, the California walnut industry continues its commitment to producing high-quality, nutritious and safe walnuts for consumers worldwide. The California Walnut Industry has earned a reputation for producing high quality walnuts while maintaining an exceptional food safety record for a century. California Walnuts are grown, harvested, and processed following strict Federal and State food safety regulations. Our finished product often exceeds quality standards set by the USDA.

California Walnuts have tremendous versatility and can be used in a variety of ways – for recipe ideas and inspiration, visit: californiawalnuts.co.uk.

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