Just some of the walnuts waiting to be processed

We are wading through walnuts here at the moment. There’s a bumper crop this year and Chris and I collecting vast quantities every morning during our cycle rides. So far we’ve brought back four full rucksackfuls of them, and not all the trees are ready yet. There are definitely different varieties out there, some earlier to ripen than others. I’m spending my evenings watching the Tour of Britain cycling on TV and cracking them open. It’s important to get the nuts out as soon as possible. We’re picking ours up off the ground so most of them are damp. Unless they dry out quickly, the shells start to go mouldy and this spreads to the nut inside and ruins it. And it’s good exercise. Creuse walnuts have very hard shells!

Walnuts are amazingly good for you.  They contain omega-3 (94.6% of your daily requirement is found in 25 g of walnuts, manganese, copper, potassium, calcium and tryptophan. They’re fairly calorific at 163 per 25g, but it’s healthy fat in them, the sort that lowers your harmful LDL cholesterol levels.  And as I said the other day, calories are our friends! They also contain antioxidants. They’re said to be good for bone health too.

All in all, something of a superfood.

I freeze my walnuts once shelled and they keep very well that way. I put a couple of handfuls them into a recycled plastic bag (I save the plastic envelopes papers and magazines come in through the post) and pop them in the freezer immediately. I throw them in pretty much everything I cook. I’m particularly partial to walnut flapjacks. I feel a recipe coming on!

The bitter skin on walnuts is full of goodness

Walnut Flapjacks

250 g rolled oats

100g golden syrup

100g butter

100g walnuts – halves or chopped, whichever you prefer.

OK, melt the butter and golden syrup. I find 30 seconds in the microwave does the trick. Mix in the oats and walnuts. Pack firmly into a round baking tin (roughly 20 cm diameter) and back on a medium hot oven for 20 minutes until golden brown on the top.

I’m trawling the net looking for other walnut recipes to ring the changes. I’ve found a nice one for walnut pie here which I shall try this week. Pear and walnut chutney  looks awesome. And this one  for leek and goat’s cheese tart in walnut pastry is an absolute must.

I must go and get busy with the nutcrackers again. We haven’t even started gathering apples and pears yet, and they’ll need processing for the freezer quickly before they spoil, so I really need to get these nuts out of the way!