Since the earliest of time and even before agriculture has been used by the Greeks to have better food sources,’Nuts’ were a steady food and nutritional source in the diet of manhood in the dark ages. During those times, nuts were plentiful, as there were much more forests as now, and well liked for their simple storage, which allowed people to maintain them for times in which food was hard to discover. (Winter, rainy season, etc)
There is evidence that as far back as the second century B.C., the Romans distributed sugar almonds on special occasions such as marriages and births.
Nuts have their place in all cultures and throughout just about all cuisine around the world. Nuts are liked by people of all ages for their subtle taste and higher fat and carbohydrate content. It’s this subtle taste that Chefs like when creating new dishes and variants.
DESCRIPTION & SPECIES
Under the category nuts, we understand anything from a seed to a legume or tuber. The peanut, as an example, is a legume, the Brazil nut and macadamia nut are seeds and almonds are the seed of a fruit like a peach.
Botanically nuts are only seeded fruits with a hard or leathery shell which have a edible kernel, which is enclosed in a soft inner skin.
Trees of walnut, chestnut or pecan continue to produce nuts, often over hundred years after planting.
Nut trees of any species are found all over the world. Almonds for example are located in California, Spain, Morocco, Italy as well as Australia, where as the walnut can be located anywhere from North America to the Andes and Persia to Australia. Asia also has a great variety of nuts.
Scientist consider the almond for a stone fruit, much like cherries, peaches and prunes.
Since many people only know the seed (stone) of this fruit, it is generally accepted as a nut.
Almond on the tree, look like small green peaches. When ripe the shell will open and reveal the nut in its shell.
There are numerous varieties of almonds.
This exact same apricot was taken to Europe and became the apricot fruit, which is now enjoyed throughout the world. The bitter almond kernel is poisonous in its raw state and has to be boiled quickly and poached in a oven before being further used. It is primarily utilized in Chinese desserts such as the almond bean curd.
The sweet almond is usually confined for fresh consumption. In 1986, California alone produced 70,000 tons of almonds, which is half of the world’s production. Sweet almonds can be purchased whole, shelled, cut 1/2 with skin, without skin, flaked, blanched, slivered ground roasted or salted. They are used for snacks, marzipan, confectionery, and desserts as well as for the production of liqueur nature, oil and cosmetic products.
The bunya bunya tree is a member of the pine family and grows almost everywhere in Australia. Originally the trees originated in the area of Brisbane and Rockhampton in Queensland Australia. Only the female trees are creating a 2cm x 2.5cm nut at the pinecone.
In the old days, the bunya bunya pine nuts were steady meals for the aborigines and used in ceremonials. These days, the nuts gain in popularity throughout the trend of native food in Australia (bush food) in the past few years.
The nut is rich is carbohydrate, like the chestnut, and therefore used more like a potato than a nut. The bunya bunya nuts can be eaten raw but are often boiled for easy removing of the skin. Shelled nuts are then butter roasted and fried with sugar or pepper, or added to stews and soups.
RED BOPPLE NUT
The red bopple nuts are a relative of the macadamia nut, and indigenous to the tropical rain forest of the East Coast of Australia.
In contrary to most other nuts, the reddish bopple nut is very low on fat, but very high in potassium and calcium. The low fat content make this nut quite easy digestible. The nuts are eaten raw or toasted.
“He who plants a coconut tree”, the saying goes,”plants food and drink, vessels and clothing, a habitation for himself and a legacy for his children”. Indeed every part of the coconut is used, but only the coconut milk and the coconut meat are foods. The shell is used as charcoal, the husk is used to make ropes, clothing and brushes, and the trunk of the tree and leaves are used for roofs of homes and building material respectively.
The fruit of the palm’cocos nucifera’ has an edible kernel and therefore qualifies as a nut. Coconut palms grow best near the beachfront but have been proven to withstand high elevation, although the production rate is diminishing as farther away from the sea the tree grows.
The large thick green pod encloses a brown fibrous husk around a brown shell, which comprises a layer of soft white flesh and the clear water in the middle. Sub-species found only on one island of the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, produces a nut often weighing more than 20 kg, which needs 10 years to ripen.
Coconuts are the worlds most commercially employed nuts. Especially the meat, or copra, as it is called after sun drying, is vital for the export industries, in coconut growing countries. The coconut is a significant food source particularly in South East Asia, India, Brazil and the South Pacific Islands.
The copra can be attracted shredded or desiccated and can be used in confectioneries, ice creams and to coat chicken or fish for frying. Yet much of it is pressed because of its oil also known as coconut butter because it is fatty and white at room temperature. Not only can it be used for cooking and to make margarine, but it also goes to soaps, detergents, shampoos, face cream, perfumes and candles.
It is also a significant ingredient in glycerin, synthetic rubber, safety glass and hydraulic brake fluid. Coconut juice or milk is the natural juice of the nut, but not the water in the coconut. The coconut milk has then the consistency and color of skim milk and is available canned or frozen.
More recently, the nuts were grounded to a paste, mixed with copra (grated coconut meat) and ten formed into a candle.
Candlenuts are the seed of the candle berry tree indigenous to Indonesia and Malaysia but widely spread throughout south East Asia, the South Pacific and Sri Lanka.
The nut has a very significant content on fat and is appreciated for the extracted oil for lighting in addition to cooking. The nut is colored grey to black, about 5cm in diameter, with a thin, papery husk containing a couple of nuts.
Candlenut oil for lighting purposes is extracted by roasting the nuts when they are just half ripe as oil for cooking is extracted by roasting the nuts when they’re fully ripe. For human consumption, the nuts have to be roasted as raw once have been causing sicknesses.
Ripe candle nuts are roasted, then pounded into a meal and mixed with salt, chilies or shrimp paste for use in curries or as a spicy condiment into curries.
The palmyra palm native to many South East Asian Countries produces a hard, shiny nut, where a sweetish gel or sap is expressed. While this sap is used at the Indonesian cuisine for desserts and sauces, it is on other recognized product that’s begin produced out of the palmyra palm – The Palm Sugar (gula melacca).
There are not reliable data available on the nutritional value of the palm nut, but it’s widely known that the fat is saturated.
The macadamia trees are evergreen and reach a height of around 20 meters.
It is very difficult to crack the macadamia nut as it is shell is very hard and so tight to the kernel that if cracked the nut is smashed. In Hawaii, American scientist developed a way of separating the kernel from the shell by decreasing them in drying bins. They then developed the first commercial cracker. It was through both of these improvements that the macadamia nut could be formed to the commercial importance it has today.
This is also the reason macadamia nuts are just available already de-shelled. Macadamia nuts also are valued for their oil and the macadamia nut butter.
They’re available roasted and salted. When purchasing macadamia nuts, give care that they are packed in a air tight or vacuum bags, as they become easily rancid once opened.
Macadamia nuts are used for confectioneries or as snacks, but also gain in popularity in the kitchen as they have a very gentle and subtle taste and add texture to salads, and hot dishes.
The title refers to a nut like tuber of a aquatic plant named Trapa. The plants are common to several parts of the world, but are mainly used in Japan, China and Thailand where it’s also a sought after ingredient in it is cuisines.
The trapa plant roots in lakes and ponds and sends, its’ leaves to the surface, similar to a water lily. The water chestnut grows on the roots underneath the surface. Water chestnuts are flat and round with a diameter of 5 – 7cm. They’ve a soft black skin and white flesh similar to the flesh of a coconut. Once peeled, they may be eaten raw, or dried and are a well liked ingredient because its crunchy texture, and sweet subtle taste. Water chestnuts can also be boiled and made into flour, which is used for thickening of sauces and dishes, much like cornstarch.
Chestnuts are considered to have originated in Southern Europe and Persia even though they’re also found in China, Japan and Northern America.
The blossoms of the chestnut tree have a brown shiny color and leathery shell. They are also sold in syrup as marron glaces.
Chestnuts are the only nuts, which are treated like a vegetable since they contain more starch (30%) and less fat .
Chestnuts are also made into a flour high on starch and fiber.
Originating from the West Indies and indigenous to the north of Brazil, Portuguese explorers introduced the nut to India and Malaysia and parts of Africa.
The hard-shelled nut grows inside the cashew apple. When mature the cashew nut appears at the end of the red or yellow apple. The cashew tree is a member of the poison ivy family and farmers need to take great precautions when extracting the nuts. The smoke and steam, which happens however may still be harmful to skin and eyes. When heated the cashew nuts are harmless and may be extracted.
The ginkgo is the ancient maidenhair tree, which survives as a wild tree only in China.
The fruit resembles a small plum but has a foul and bitter shell. The Chinese wait for the smelly hull to full off, then paint the nuts and use them for festive decorations, before they crack them open to eat the nut. In Japan and Korea, ginkgo nuts are skewered and then grilled, which turns the nuts color from yellow to green. In China, the ginkgo nut is a popular ingredient to vegetarian dishes. The nuts are available fresh or canned.
The nut of the hazel bush is native to Europe and North America and has been mentioned in writings as far back as 2838 B.C., and was credited of currying many human ills in addition to being considered outstanding for Boldness and use as a hair tonic.
Hazelnuts have a very hard shell, which needs to be cracked by a nutcracker before getting to the kernel. Hazelnuts are available, raw, blanched, or toasted, chopped, ground, cooking in addition to hazelnut liquor.
The peanut is not a true nut. It’s the seed of a leguminous plant with a soft, brownish colored brittle shell and belong to the Botanical family of peas and beans. But they are typically considered along with the nuts because of they are physical characteristics and nutritional value. The nuts grow on the long roots of this plant and below the ground. The peanut is native to Brazil and has been discovered there since the first recording in 950 B.C..
Now, peanuts are cultivated throughout the tropics all over the world (India, China, West Africa, Australia and the USA are the biggest peanut growing nations ). Peanuts also create peanut butter, margarine, and also used in canning of sardines. Peanuts are available whole, de-shelled and de-skinned and raw or toasted.
Pine trees are located in the Southern USA, Mexico and around the Mediterranean sea. It is quite tricky to set up a pinenut industry as the trees are growing very slow and do not carry a lot of fruits until they’re 75 years old.
Pine nuts are largely got raw and then toasted, fried or grilled. Pine nut oil is used for the cosmetic industry.
The pistachio nut is a small green kernel, which grows on the pistachio tree originating in Syria, Palestine and Persia.
The natural color of the shell is grayish white, but some times the blossoms are dyed red to cover up some of the staining.
Pistachios are often sold in their shell or shelled and blanched.
The walnut is about the hickory and pecan tree and grows anywhere from North America to the Andes and Europe to China. English walnuts, butternuts and hickory nuts are all walnuts, botanical talking. All those walnuts have different shells and kernels but the English walnut with it is rough, rippled shell and yellow brown kernel is the most popular and broadly referred to as’The Walnut’.
Walnuts are bought in the shell or de-shelled and are sought after for their oil, which is used for cooking as well as for salads and dressing.