List of culinary nuts

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Mixed nuts in a bowl
A small bowl of mixed nuts
A typical assortment of mixed nuts

Culinary nuts are dry, edible fruits or seeds that usually, but not always, have a high fat content. Nuts are used in a wide variety of edible roles, including in baking, as snacks (either roasted or raw), and as flavoring. In addition to botanical nuts, fruits and seeds that have a similar appearance and culinary role are considered to be culinary nuts.[1] Culinary nuts are divided into fruits or seeds in one of four categories:

  • True, or botanical nuts: dry, hard-shelled, uncompartmented fruit that do not split on maturity to release seeds;[2][3]
  • Drupes: fleshy fruit surrounding a stone, or pit, containing a seed (e.g. almonds);[4]

Nuts have a rich history as food. For many indigenous peoples of the Americas, a wide variety of nuts, including acorns, American beech, and others, served as a major source of starch and fat over thousands of years.[5] Similarly, a wide variety of nuts have served as food for Indigenous Australians for many centuries.[6] Other culinary nuts, though known from ancient times, have seen dramatic increases in use in modern times. The most striking such example is the peanut. Its usage was popularized by the work of George Washington Carver, who discovered and popularized many applications of the peanut after employing peanut plants for soil amelioration in fields used to grow cotton.[7]

True nuts[edit]

Common hazelnut, as it grows on the tree
The common hazelnut, native to Europe and Western Asia

The following are both culinary and botanical nuts.

Nut-like drupe seeds[edit]

A drupe is a fleshy fruit surrounding a stone, or pit, containing a seed. Some of these seeds are culinary nuts as well.

Smoked almonds, ready for eating
Smoked almonds
  • Almonds (Prunus dulcis) have a long and important history of religious, social and cultural significance as a food.[28] Speculated to have originated as a natural hybrid in Central Asia, almonds spread throughout the Middle East in ancient times and thence to Eurasia. The almond is one of only two nuts mentioned in the Bible.[29]
  • Australian cashew nut (Semecarpus australiensis) is a source of food for Indigenous Australians of north-eastern Queensland and Australia's Northern Territory.[30]
  • Betel or areca nuts (Areca catechu) are chewed in many cultures as a psychoactive drug.[31] They are also used in Indian cuisine to make sweet after-dinner treats (mukwa) and breath-fresheners (paan masala).[32]
  • Borneo tallow nuts (Shorea spp.) are grown in the tropical rain forests of South East Asia, as a source of edible oil.[33]
  • Canarium spp.
    • Canarium nut (Canarium harveyi, Canarium indicum, or Canarium commune) has long been an important food source in Melanesia.[34]
    • Chinese olive (Canarium album) pits are processed before use as an ingredient in Chinese cooking.[35]
    • Pili nuts (Canarium ovatum) are native to the Philippines, where they have been cultivated for food from ancient times.[36]
  • Cashews (Anacardium occidentale) grow as a drupe that is attached to the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree.[37] Native to northeastern Brazil, the cashew was introduced to India and East Africa in the sixteenth century, where they remain a major commercial crop. The nut must be roasted to remove the caustic shell oil before being consumed.[38]
  • Chilean hazel (Gevuina avellana), from an evergreen native to South America, similar in appearance and taste to the hazelnut.[39]
  • Coconut (Cocos nucifera), used world-wide as a food. The fleshy part of the seed is edible, and used either desiccated or fresh as an ingredient in many foods. The pressed oil from the coconut is used in cooking as well.[40]
  • Gabon nut (Coula edulis) has a taste comparable to hazelnut or chestnut. It is eaten raw, grilled or boiled.[41]
  • Hickory (Carya spp.)
    • Mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa), named after the heavy hammer (moker in Dutch) required to crack the heavy shell and remove the tasty nutmeat.[42]
    • Pecans (Carya illinoinensis) are the only major nut tree native to North America.[43] Pecans are eaten as a snack food, and used as an ingredient in baking and other food preparation.
    • Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) has over 130 named cultivars. They are a valuable source of food for wildlife, and were eaten by indigenous peoples of the Americas and settlers alike.[44]
    • Shellbark hickory (Carya laciniosa) nuts are sweet, and are the largest of the hickories. They are also eaten by a wide variety of wildlife.[45]
  • Irvingia spp. are native to Africa
  • Jack nuts (Artocarpus heterophyllus) are the seeds of the jack fruit. With a taste like chestnuts, they have an extremely low fat content of less than 1%.[47]
  • Bread Nuts (Artocarpus camansi) similarly have a chesnut taste and very low fat content
  • Panda oleosa is used in Gabon in a similar way to bush mango nuts, as well as to extract an edible oil.[48]
  • Pekea nut, or butter-nut of Guiana (Caryocar nuciferum), harvested locally for its highly prized edible oil.[33]
  • Pistachio (Pistacia vera L.), cultivated for thousands of years, native to West Asia and Asia Minor.[49] It is one of only two nuts mentioned in the Bible.[29]
  • Walnut (Juglans spp.)
    • Black walnut (Juglans nigra), also popular as food for wildlife, with an appealing, distinctive flavor. Native of North America. [50]
    • Butternut (Juglans cinerea) (or white walnut) is native to North America. Used extensively, in the past, by Native American tribes as food.[51]
    • English walnut (Juglans regia) (or Persian walnut) was introduced to California around 1770. California now represents 99% of US walnut growth.[52] It is often combined with salads, vegetables, fruits or desserts because of its distinctive taste.
    • Heartnut, or Japanese walnut (Juglans aitlanthifolia), native to Japan, with a characteristic cordate shape.[53] Heartnuts are often toasted or baked, and can be used as a substitute for English walnuts.

Nut-like gymnosperm seeds[edit]

Pine nuts, in the husk, and separated
Pine nuts are edible gymnosperm seeds.

A gymnosperm, from the Greek gymnospermos (γυμνόσπερμος), meaning "naked seed", is a seed that does not have an enclosure. The following gymnosperms are culinary nuts. All but the ginkgo nut are from evergreens.

  • Cycads (Macrozamia spp.)[54]
  • Ginkgo nuts (Ginkgo biloba) are a common ingredient in Chinese cooking. They are starchy, low in fat, protein and calories, but high in vitamin C.[56]
  • Araucaria spp.
    • Bunya nut (Araucaria bidwillii) is native to Queensland, Australia. Nuts are the size of walnuts, and rich in starch.[57]
    • Monkey-puzzle nut (Araucaria araucana) has nuts twice the size of almonds. Rich in starch. Roasted, boiled, eaten raw, or fermented in Chile and Argentina.[57]
    • Paraná pine nut (Araucaria angustifolia) (or Brazil pine nut) is an edible seed similar to pine nuts.[58]
  • Pine nuts (Pinus spp.) Pine nuts can be toasted and added to salads and are used as an ingredient in pesto, among other regional uses.
    • Chilgoza pine (Pinus gerardiana), common in Central Asia. Nuts are used raw, roasted or in confectionery products.[59]
    • Colorado pinyon (Pinus edulis), in great demand as an edible nut, with average annual production of 454 to 900 tonnes.[60]
    • Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis), a pine-nut yielding species native to Asia.[61]
    • Mexican pinyon (Pinus cembroides), found in Mexico and Arizona. Nuts are eaten raw, roasted, or made into flour.[62]
    • Single-leaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla) grows in foothills from Mexico to Idaho. Eaten as other pine nuts. Also sometimes ground and made into pancakes.[63]
    • Stone pine, or pignolia nut (Pinus pinea) is the most commercially important pine nut.[61]

Nut-like angiosperm seeds[edit]

Macadamia, in the husk
Macadamia nuts are edible angiosperm seeds.

These culinary nuts are seeds contained within a larger fruit.

  • Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa) are harvested from an estimated 250,000–400,000 trees per year. Highly valued edible nut used in the confectionery and baking trades.[33] Excellent dietary source of selenium.[64]
  • Macadamia (Macadamia spp.) are primarily produced in Hawai'i and Australia. Both species are native to Australia. They are a highly valued edible nut. Waste nuts are commonly used to extract an edible oil.[33]
    • Macadamia nut (Macadamia tetraphylla) has a rough shell, and is the subject of some commercialization.[65]
    • Queensland macadamia nut (Macadamia integrifolia) has a smooth shell, and is the principal commercial macadamia nut.[65]
  • Paradise nut (Lecythis usitata), native to the Amazon rain forest, highly regarded by indigenous tribal people.[66]
  • Peanut, or groundnut (Arachis hypogaea), originally from South America, has grown from a relatively minor crop to one of the most important commercial nut crops, in part due to the work of George Washington Carver at the beginning of the 20th century.[7]
  • Peanut tree (Sterculia quadrifida) or bush peanut, native to Australia. One of the tastiest native nuts. Requires no preparation.[67][note 1]
  • Soybeans (Glycine max) are used as a nut, in addition to their use as oil seeds.[68]

Production[edit]

2009 world-wide production, in tonnes[69][note 2][note 3]
Nut Production
Coconuts
61,708,358
Peanuts
36,456,791
Cashew nuts
3,350,929
Almonds
2,361,676
Walnuts
2,282,264
Chestnuts
1,408,329
Betel nuts
1,033,691
Hazelnuts
765,666
Pistachios
633,582
Kola nuts
190,431
Brazil nuts
77,088
Other nuts
830,022

Currently roughly a dozen nuts are responsible for the bulk of world-wide nut production. The major nut-producing countries for each of the major commercial nuts are:[71]

International trade in exported edible nuts is substantial. In 2004, for example, exports amounted to $5.2 billion, with 56% of these exports coming from developing countries.[72]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Not to be confused with peanuts (groundnuts).
  2. ^ Soybeans are not included in this table, since the vast majority of soybean production is not for use as nuts.[70]
  3. ^ One tonne, or metric ton, is 1,000kg.
  4. ^ Macadamia nuts produced in the United States are grown in Hawaii.

References[edit]

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