View Full Version : Walnut question
03-10-2006, 08:13 PM
I'm making Alissa's Walnut Fudge on page 501... and I'm wondering if I should soak my walnut's first? And if so, for how long?
03-10-2006, 08:23 PM
Walnuts, pecans, macademia nuts you don't need to soak, and here's how it was explained to me.
when a nut grows it wants to be consumed and made into another tree, but it wants to do that in another area, so it can grow big and healthy and strong,
so it does two things, it looks and tastes great to a lot of little critters who will carry it away and deposit it somewhere eles, such as a squirel burrying it.
It doesn't want to drop on the ground and start to make a tree immediately, so it has enzyme inhibitors, to keep itself fresh for a long time.
Well, when it drops on the ground, or is burries by a squirel the water in the Earth, starts to work on it, but not instantly, the harder the shell of the nut, the less enzyme inhibitors it has, because it is hard to crack and hard for the water to seap in from the Earth, so the really hard shelled nuts like Walnut, pecans, pinenuts and macademias, don't have as much enzyme inhibitors, so don't need to be soaked, or if you do, for only about 10 minutes tops.
The softer shelled nuts, like almonds, cashews need to be soaked,for a long time, because when their shell is soft, it lets in alot of moisture from the Earth, and so it has to have lots of enzyme inhibitors to keep it fresh longer so it can be carries off to another area to reproduce.
Anyway, that's about the only way I can remember what needs to be soaked, and what doesn't, also it seems the more flavorful the nut, the less inhibitors.
So, the answer to your question -- after all of that is -- no.
03-10-2006, 08:34 PM
I had asked Alissa about soaking and her reply was if she does not say "soaked" in the recipe she is not calling for soaked. Hope that helps!
03-10-2006, 09:00 PM
Pretty good explantion RP,
Of course, cashews are not nuts, but i won't quibble... :)
03-10-2006, 10:02 PM
it's perfectly okay,
I agree cashews are not nuts, and ALL nuts are really seeds, I just use them this way as MOST people think of them this way.
but when you are right-- you are right,--they are indeed NOT a nut or seed, they are--toxic!
but what the heck are they?
03-10-2006, 10:23 PM
but what the heck are they?
Technically, they are a dried fruit. As is buckwheat. Funny world, isn't it?
03-10-2006, 10:36 PM
Okay, I THOUGHT they were a fruit,
but doesn't a fruit have an internal seed?
TELL ME ALL--GREAT WIZARD!!
03-10-2006, 10:58 PM
Internal seed or not is actually not relevant. This from www.plants.tamu.edu:
Q: What determines if something is a fruit or vegetable?
A: A vegetable is described as "any herbaceous (non-woody) plant or plant part that is eaten with the main course rather than as a dessert. It usually has a bland taste."
Botanically the fruit is "the developed ovary of a seed plant with its contents and accessory parts, as the pea pod, nut, tomato, pineapple, etc." or " the edible part of a plant developed from a flower with any accessory tissues, as the peach, mulberry, banana, etc."
The confusion arises because the "vegetable" can have "fruit" which are the reproductive parts. The tomato is probably the only (fruit) legally declared a vegetable in a Supreme Court ruling in the early 1900's.
03-10-2006, 11:10 PM
I'm not sure I agree, but that's okay, I'll think about it,
I though all fruits had seeds and that is how they were determined, as vegetables do not have seeds, they are roots or leaves or flowers (like cauliflower and brocolli)
the ones with seeds are fruits, but that is how I learned, doesn't mean the people who taught me were right--Now THAT's a good way to look at things. LOL
03-11-2006, 01:29 AM
Here's the "Straight Dope" on the subject, accessible at http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mveggie.html:
What's the difference between fruits and vegetables?
Dear Straight Dope:
Recently, I pointed out to someone the difference between fruits and vegetables. I then added that corn and nuts were neither of these because they were seeds, which make them grains. They swore up and down that corn was considered a vegetable. I learned that vegetables must be root, stem, or leave, and that fruit must be a fleshy covering of seeds. Corn does not fit either of these. So what's the real difference between fruits and vegetables (and grains, and so on, ad nauseum)? Settle it once and for all. --Matt S.
SDSTAFF Terey replies:
Matt, like you, I was taught simply that a vegetable is a root, stem or leaf, and that just about everything else is a fruit. I wasn't really sure about the corn and nut thing, so after consulting several encyclopedias and my old botany textbook, I found the following definition, which all sources seem to basically agree upon:
A fruit is the matured ovary of a flower, containing the seed. After fertilization takes place and the embryo (plantlet) has begun to develop, the surrounding ovule becomes the fruit. Yum. I won't go on about the four types of fruit--simple, aggregate, multiple and accessory--which explain things like berries and pineapples.
A vegetable is considered to be edible roots, tubers, stems, leaves, fruits, seeds, flower clusters, and other softer plant parts. In common usage, however, there is no exact distinction between a vegetable and a fruit. The usual example is the tomato, which is a fruit, but is eaten as a vegetable, as are cucumbers, peppers, melons, and squashes. The classification of plants as vegetables is largely determined by custom, culture, and usage.
Okay, now the part which may surprise you. A grain is described as the dry fruit of a cereal grass, such as the "seedlike fruits of the buckwheat and other plants, and the plants bearing such fruits." So, grain is also a fruit.
Which brings us to the nut. Yes, you guessed it, a nut is, in botany, "a dry, one-seeded, usually oily fruit." True nuts include the acorn, chestnut, and hazelnut. The term nut also refers to any seed or fruit with a hard, brittle covering around an edible kernel, like the peanut, which is really a legume. A legume is defined as "(the) name for any plant of the pulse family; more generally, any vegetable. Botanically, a legume--a pod that splits along two sides, with the seeds attached to one of the sutures--is the characteristic fruit of the pulse family." Say what? A "pulse" is "the common name for Leguminosae or Fabaceae, a large family of herbs, shrubs, and trees, also called the pea, or legume, family. " Please, make it stop!
So I guess we have learned today that just about everything is a fruit, unless of course, it's a vegetable or a legume. Aren't you glad you asked?
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
03-11-2006, 05:52 AM
Thank you sooo much RawPriestess for that terrific explanation... on that I will remember well!!! When I was typing up this note they had prob. only soaked for about 10 min's so it was perfect, and my walnut fudge balls turned out terrific!!!
Thanks a bunch everyone for the other info as well... print worthy!!!
03-11-2006, 02:15 PM
RawMagnolia, you are so very welcome,
glad those fudge balls turned out great,
I'm on my way over to get a couple yummy!
03-12-2006, 03:45 PM
Ok, so I dug into this subject and I was wrong, just not as wrong as most other people are. :)
Cashews are not a nut, but a seed. And they are very very weird. Perhaps the weirdest thing I eat, all things considered. But I do love 'em.
Native to Brazil, but also cultivated extensively in India since the 1600's, the cashew "nut" is found within a shell within a cashew fruit, which is also cashew shaped, but a little larger, and green. And the shell has caustic oils in its skin that will give you a rash like poison ivy does. No wonder, because the cashew is a member of the poison ivy family. If you are allergic to mangos, you will probably also be allergic to cashews.
But wait, there's more... once the cashew fruit develops, a pseudofruit (pseudo because it contains no seeds) called the cashew apple develops between the stem and true fruit, and it grows to 20 times the size of the cashew fruit, and turns either yellow or red. Although acidic and very tart, this fruitlike body has 3 times thr vitamin C of oranges, and can be fermented like wine, and then distilled like brandy. The result, in Goa at least, is called fenni, often has other fruit added for flavor, and is about 80 proof. By a funny coincidence there was a hot news item from Goa today that the state government had just been granted a patent (like a license) from the national government to distill fenni, apparently to supply a more uniform, trustworthy, and healthy product.
The challenge for the grower is that once the apple is removed (mostly it just rots off, lying on the ground) and the pulp of the fruit itself is removed, you still have to get though the shell which protects the seed, and that shell is equipped with a booby trap, unique to the plant world. It's a three layer defense, a hard outer shell, a hard inner shell, and a highly caustic liquid in between, trapped in a honeycomb tissue layer. Trying to crack the shell without neutralizing the caustic liquid ruins the nut and can chemically burn your skin. But heat neutralizes that caustic liquid. So the two ways they are processed to prepare them for shelling are to to heat them in a big pan until the oil evaporates, or to heat them in an oil bath that allows the caustic oil to escape from the shell and be captured for later use. It is a valuable commercial material, used in the manufacture of various phenolic compounds, including organic brake shoes!
Anyway, once this is done the shell can safely be cracked, whether by mechanical shelling machines at big processors, or more commonly in village communes, by people using mallets. The latter is where most of the whole cashews come from, and one person can typically only shell 25 pounds a day. This is one of the reasons cashews tend to be quite expensive.
Once the meats have been removed from the shell, they are typically "oil roasted" (meaning deep fried, really) to make them into the finished crispy "nut" that most consumers are familiar with. What we call raw cashews are the unroasted ones after cracking. But they have all been through that first heating process to netralize the shells, so this is the reason for the controversy about whether they are really a raw food product or not. Some suppliers claim to have solved this by carefully monitoring the time in the pan to insure the internal temperature of the cashews does not rise high enough to kill the enzymes. This is the source of the "really raw" cashews a few raw food gurus now recommend.
Ok, nuff said, time for some fenni...
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