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Walnut oil is edible and is generally used less than other oils in food preparation, often due to high pricing. It is light-coloured and delicate in flavour and scent, with a nutty quality. Although chefs sometimes use walnut oil for pan-frying, most avoid walnut oil for high-temperature cooking because heating tends to reduce the oil's flavour and produce a slight bitterness. Walnut oil is preferred in cold dishes such as salad dressings.
Cold-pressed walnut oil is typically more expensive due to the loss of a higher percentage of the oil. Refined walnut oil is expeller-pressed and saturated with solvent to extract the highest percentage of oil available in the nut meat. The solvents are subsequently eliminated by heating the mixture to around 400 °F (200 °C). Both methods produce food-grade culinary oils. Walnut oil, like all nut, seed and vegetable oils can turn rancid.
Over 99% of walnut oil sold in the US is produced in California.
Some woodworkers favour walnut oil as a finish for implements that will come in contact with food, such as wooden bowls, because of its safety. Rancidity is not an issue because walnut oil dries when applied to wood in a thin coating. People who mix oil and wax to formulate wood finishes value walnut oil as an ingredient because of the edibility of both ingredients. The oil typically is combined with beeswax in a mixture of 1/3 oil to 2/3 beeswax.
- "National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28". USDA National Nutrient Database. 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
- Ben-Erik van Wyk (2014). Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World. University of Chicago Press. p. 154. ISBN 9780226091839.
- "Walnut industry". California Walnuts. 2017.
- Schimek, Erik (2010-03-19). "Finishing with Walnut Oil and Beeswax". Erik Organic. Archived from the original on 2011-05-08. Retrieved 2011-11-10.