Nut Fun Facts
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Nuts are defined as a simple, dry fruit with one seed in which the seed case wall becomes very hard at maturity.
- True nuts include pecan, sweet chestnut, beech, acorns, hazel, hornbeam and alder. Peanuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, horse chestnuts and pine nuts are not nuts.
- Squirrels forget where they hide about half of their nuts.
- If you want to harvest nuts from the wild, you will actually be doing what is known as “foraging”.
- You need to eat nuts raw for them to have the most impact on your health, but roasted are fine, too.
- October 22 is National Nut Day.
Each nut bears its own distinctive flavor, as well as a unique history that often dates back to biblical times and beyond.
- Almonds: Almonds have been eaten plain and candied since they were introduced into Roman life. Native to the Mediterranean countries, the almond was introduced to America from Spain in 1769.
- Brazil Nuts: Brazil nuts are grown in the Amazon area. The Brazil nut trees grow to a height of 150 feet and have a trunk diameter of nearly eight feet. The three to four pound pods of Brazil nuts fall to the ground when ripe, which makes gathering them a very dangerous occupation
- Cashews: Native to Brazil and the West Indies, the cashew is chiefly grown in India, Brazil, East Africa, Mozambique and Kenya. The United States consumes over 90% of the world’s cashew crop.
- Hazelnuts: Also known as filberts or cobnuts, are grown in Turkey, Iran, Spain and the United States. Early settlers introduced the hazelnuts to America in the 1600’s.
- Macadamias: The macadamia, originating in Australia, was discovered around 1857, but was not harvested until the 1930’s. The macadamia is one of the rarest nuts, and with their superb flavor-so very rich and so buttery, it is cherished as a rare and special delicacy.
- Peanuts: Originating in Brazil and Peru and introduced to America by early explorers, the peanut is primarily grown in China, West Africa and the United States. Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma are our key producing states, with Suffolk, Virginia laying claim to being the peanut capital of the world. Peanuts vary in size and variety.
- Pecans: This truly American nut is principally grown in the Southern and Southwestern United States, and in the countries of Mexico, Israel and South Africa.
- Pistachios: Ninety percent of all pistachios are grown in Turkey and Iran, with Italy, Afghanistan and the United States (California) making up the remainder of the crop. Pistachios thrive in hilly or mountainous regions with poor, stony soils. They grow in heavy, grape-like clusters from trees that reach a height of 25 to 30 feet. The tree produces for about 300 years.
- Walnuts: The California walnut is a descendant of the Persian walnut. Native to Persia, the Greeks called the walnut “the nut of Jupiter,” fit for the gods. California is the major growing area of walnuts in the United States, along with France, Italy, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Romania, China and India.
1. Almonds –
Almond Fun Facts
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Almonds are actually stone fruits related to cherries, peaches and plums.
- In the mid-1700s, the Franciscan Padres planted almond trees to grace their missions along El Camino Real (The Royal Road) that stretches along the California coast from San Diego to Sonoma.
- February 16th is National Almonds Day.
- June 29th is National Almond Buttercrunch Day.
- August 12th is National Toasted Almond Bar Day.
- Native to the Mediterranean countries, the almond was introduced to America from Spain in 1769.
- The world’s largest almond factory is located in Sacramento, California and processes over 2 million pounds of almonds per day. California produces over 80% of the world’s supply of almonds and that chocolate manufacturers currently use about 40% of the world’s almonds and about 20% of the world’s peanuts.
- Raw Almonds contain prussic acids, the eating of more than a handful can be lethal. this is why all almonds are dried, roasted and/or pasteurized.
- The bitter taste in Almonds is derived from the 4-9 mg of hydrogen cyanide in each.
Interesting facts about almonds
Facts and Picture courtesy of
Benefits from Almonds
- Almonds and cholesterol – A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggests that consuming almonds increases vitamin E levels in the plasma and red blood cells, and also lowers cholesterol levels.
- Almonds and cancer risk – A study, published in 2015 in Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, looked at nut consumption and cancer risk. They found that individuals who consumed higher quantities of peanuts, walnuts, and almonds had their risk of breast cancer reduced by 2–3 times.
- Almonds and heart disease – Almonds, along with nuts and seeds in general, are often associated with improved levels of blood lipids and being good for the heart. There is some evidence indicating that including almonds in your diet may help ward off heart disease, but overall, the evidence is inconclusive. In a study published in 2014, scientists found that almonds significantly increased the amount of antioxidants in the bloodstream, reduced blood pressure, and improved blood flow. Their findings add weight to the theory that Mediterranean diets with lots of nuts have big health benefits.
- Almonds and vitamin E – Almonds contain relatively high levels of vitamin E, an antioxidant. In fact, they are one of the best natural sources of vitamin E, providing 37 percent of the recommended daily intake in just 1 ounce. Vitamin E helps protect cells from oxidative damage. Also, higher vitamin E intake has been tentatively associated with a reduced risk of certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, some cancers, and heart disease. However, some studies have found a slight increase in prostate cancer risk with higher intakes of vitamin E; and a paper published by the American Heart Association in 2014 reported no significant benefits of vitamin E against heart disease or stroke.
- Almonds and blood sugar – There is some evidence that almonds may help keep blood sugar under control. This ability is thought to be due to their high levels of magnesium — containing almost half the daily recommended amount in just 2 ounces of almonds. In around one-third of people with type 2 diabetes, magnesium levels are low. In one study, people with type 2 diabetes and low magnesium levels took magnesium supplements. The researchers measured an increase in their magnesium levels, and they also saw improvements in insulin resistance.
- Almonds help manage weight – Because almonds are lower in carbohydrates and high in protein and fiber, they can help people feel fuller for longer; this has the potential to reduce the number of calories taken in overall. There have been numerous studies on almonds and a variety of nuts that demonstrate their ability to keep people feeling full.
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2. Brazil Nuts –
Interesting facts about Brazil nuts
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- Brazil nuts are edible seeds of the brazil nut tree (Bertholletia excelsa).
- The Brazil nut tree is the only species in the monotypic genus Bertholletia.
- This tree is native to the Guianas, Venezuela, Brazil, eastern Colombia, eastern Peru, and eastern Bolivia.
- It occurs as scattered trees in large forests on the banks of the Amazon River, Rio Negro, Tapajós, and the Orinoco.
- The Brazil nut tree has a lifespan of 500 years or more, and according to some authorities often reaches an age of 1,000 years.
- The Brazil nut tree is a large tree, reaching 50 meters (160 feet) tall and with a trunk 1 to 2 meters (3.3 to 6.6 feet) in diameter, making it among the largest of trees in the Amazon rainforests.
- The stem is straight and commonly without branches for well over half the tree’s height, with a large emergent crown of long branches above the surrounding canopy of other trees. The bark is grayish and smooth.
- The leaves are dry-season deciduous, alternate, simple, entire or crenate, oblong, 20 to 35 centimeters (8-14 inches) long and 10 to 15 centimeters (4-6 inches) broad.
- The flowers are small, greenish-white, in panicles 5 to 10 centimeters (2-4 inches) long; each flower has a two-parted, deciduous calyx, six unequal cream-colored petals, and numerous stamens united into a broad, hood-shaped mass.
- Brazil nut trees produce fruit almost exclusively in pristine forests, as disturbed forests lack the large-body bees that are the only ones capable of pollinating the tree’s flowers. The fruit takes 14 months to mature after pollination of the flowers.
- The fruit itself is a large capsule 10–15 centimeters (3.9–5.9 inches) in diameter, resembling a coconut endocarp in size and weighing up to 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds).
- The fruit has a hard, woody shell 8 to 12 millimeter (0.31 to 0.47 inches) thick, which contains 8 to 24 triangular seeds 4 to 5 centimeters (1.5-2 inches) long (the “Brazil nuts”) packed like the segments of an orange.A mature tree will produce more than 300 fruits, which ripen and fall to the ground from January to June. The pods are harvested from the forest floor, and the seeds are taken out, dried in the sun, and then washed and exported while still in their shells. The brown shell is very hard and has three sides.
- Brazil nut is not a true nut in the botanical sense, but only in the culinary sense.
- Similar to the specific needs of the Brazil nut tree’s flower to pollinate, another key process in the tree’s life cycle is heavily dependent on another of the rainforest’s creatures. Under natural conditions there are only a few animals with the ability to access the tree’s seeds and help disperse them throughout the forest. Typically, the most important of these animals is the agouti.
- Brazil nuts are primarily harvested in the wild by local people. Many forest-based communities depend on the collection and sale of Brazil nuts as a vital and sustainable source of income, and the sweet nuts provide protein and calories for tribal, rural, and even urban Brazilians.
- Despite their name, the most significant exporter of Brazil nuts is not Brazil but Bolivia, where they are called castañas o nuez de Brasil. In Brazil, these nuts are called castanhas-do-pará (literally “chestnuts from Pará”), but Acreans call them castanhas-do-acre instead. Indigenous names include juvia in the Orinoco area.
- Around 25,000 metric tons of Brazil nuts are harvested each year, of which Bolivia accounts for about 50%, Brazil 40%, and Peru 10%. In 1980, annual production was around 40,000 tons per year from Brazil alone, and in 1970, Brazil harvested a reported 104,487 tons of nuts.
- There are 656 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of Brazil nuts.
- Brazil nuts are are 14% protein, 12% carbohydrate, and 66% fat by weight; 85% of their calories come from fat.
- Brazil nuts are high in calories, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These creamy nuts are an excellent source of B complex vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, folate and pyridoxine. It contains minerals like manganese, selenium, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc. It also contains Vitamin E and Vitamin C.
- Some of the health benefits of Brazil nuts include
- a healthy heart,
- their ability to aid in skin care and reduce the signs of aging,
- balance hormone function and weight loss.
- These nuts also improve the immune system,
- stimulate growth and repair,
- improve the digestive process,
- lower risk of cancer,
- and boost male fertility.
- Brazil nuts are eaten as they are or as part of confectionary or baked goods. They are one of the world’s major commercial nuts.
- Brazil nut oil is produced from the seed. As well as its food use, Brazil nut oil is also used as a lubricant in clocks, for making artists’ paints, and in the cosmetics industry.
- The lumber from Brazil nut trees is of excellent quality, but logging the trees is prohibited by law in all three producing countries (Brazil, Bolivia and Peru). Illegal extraction of timber and land clearances present a continuing threat.
- Brazil nut trees are some of the most valuable non-timber products in the Amazon but are extremely sensitive to deforestation, because of their complex ecological requirements.
- There has been a long history of extraction and collection of Brazil nuts from the rainforest of Bolivia and Brazil. In fact, since as early as 1633 Brazil nuts have been exported to Europe.
- In North America, Brazil nuts are sometimes known by the epithet “nigger toes,” though the term has fallen out of favor as public use of the racial slur became increasingly unacceptable by the 1960’s. They can be seen being sold in a market under this name in a scene from the 1922 Stan Laurel film The Pest.
- The “Brazil nut effect” describes the tendency of the larger items to rise to the top of a mixture of items of various sizes but similar densities, such as brazil nuts mixed with peanuts.
1 – Benefits from Brazil Nuts –
Brazil nuts may offer surprising and powerful nutritional benefits, including boosting heart health, providing antioxidants, and improving brain function.
- Nutrition – Brazil nuts are among the richest dietary sources of selenium, an essential mineral with antioxidant properties. Selenium plays an important role in reproduction, metabolism, and immune health. A single Brazil nut contains 68 to 91 micrograms (mcg) of selenium, meaning that just one nut per day can provide the daily recommended adult allowance of 55 mcg.In addition to selenium, Brazil nuts contain plenty of protein, essential minerals, and healthful fats. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a serving of three Brazil nuts contains the following nutrients:
- Heart Health –Brazil nuts contain healthful fats called polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), consuming monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats instead of saturated and trans fats helps improve cholesterol levels, which lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. Brazil nuts also provide dietary fiber. The AHA report that eating fiber-rich foods improves blood cholesterol levels and lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. The findings of a 2019 study showed that higher consumption of tree nuts decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack among people living with diabetes.
- Thyroid Health – Selenium deficiency can cause hormonal imbalances that can negatively affect sleep, mood, concentration, and metabolism. Selenium plays an essential role in hormone production. The thyroid gland uses selenium to convert thyroxine hormone (T4) into its active form, triiodothyronine hormone (T3). Obtaining enough selenium from dietary sources may prevent or help regulate thyroid problems, such as hypothyroidism.
- Antioxidant Effects – The selenium in Brazil nuts may boost the body’s antioxidant system and prevent oxidative stress. The liver breaks selenium down into a type of protein called selenoprotein P, which effectively removes excess free radicals. Free radicals cause oxidative stress, and research has linked them to many chronic health conditions, including cancer. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined the antioxidant effects of Brazil nut consumption. During the study, 91 people with hypertension and high blood-lipid concentrations received either 13 g of granulated, partially defatted Brazil nuts or placebo every day for 12 weeks. The participants in the Brazil nut group had higher selenium levels and increased activity of an antioxidant enzyme called GPx3. They also had lower levels of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which people sometimes refer to as “bad cholesterol.”
- Anti-inflammatory Effects – The antioxidant properties of Brazil nuts may help reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation has an association with many chronic health conditions.A small-scale 2014 study looked at the health effects of eating one Brazil nut per day in people with chronic kidney disease. After 3 months, the researchers noticed a reduction in inflammation and markers of oxidative stress.
- Lowering Blood Sugar – Foods rich in selenium may help improve people’s blood sugar levels. A study in the European Journal of Nutrition reported that eating one Brazil nut per day for 8 weeks lowered total cholesterol and fasting glucose levels in healthy adults. The findings of another 8-week-long study showed that taking a 200-mcg selenium supplement reduced insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. The researchers also reported increased antioxidant capacity in the body.
- Improving Brain Function – Antioxidants help keep the brain healthy. Brazil nuts have powerful antioxidant effects, which may boost brain functioning. Scientists have linked decreases in antioxidant function to cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. The findings of a 2014 study suggested that people with Alzheimer’s disease have lower selenium levels than those without the condition.A small-scale trial reported that eating one Brazil nut per day for 6 months had positive effects on some cognitive functions among older adults with minor cognitive impairment (MCI) compared with those in a control group. This result may be due to the nuts reversing selenium deficiency. However, a recent study found no association between selenium levels and cognitive ability. More research is necessary to uncover how selenium affects cognition and to determine whether or not it could prevent or treat neurogenerative diseases.
2 – Can you eat too many Brazil nuts?
When it comes to Brazil nuts, more is not necessarily better. People should limit their intake of Brazil nuts to a few per day to avoid negative side effects. Brazil nuts are high in calories, and eating too many can cause selenium toxicity.
Like most nuts, Brazil nuts are very calorie-dense. People who eat too many Brazil nuts run the risk of exceeding their daily recommended calorie intake. Consuming too many calories can cause unwanted weight gain.
As a member of the tree nut family, Brazil nuts may cause allergic reactions in some people. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, an estimated 25 to 40 percent of people who have a peanut allergy react to at least one type of tree nut.
3- Selenium toxicity
Many of the health benefits of Brazil nuts come from their high selenium content. Although beneficial in small quantities, Brazil nuts could cause selenium toxicity if a person regularly eats them in large numbers.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), selenium toxicity can cause a variety of symptoms, such as:
- gastrointestinal problems
- hair loss
- brittle nails
- skin rashes or lesions
- nervous system problems
- muscle tenderness or soreness
- joint pain
It can sometimes also cause severe symptoms, which may include:
- acute respiratory distress syndrome
- heart attack
- kidney failure
- heart failure
In rare cases, selenium toxicity can be fatal.
The selenium concentration in Brazil nuts varies depending on the amount present in the soil so each nut may contain a different amount.
Brazil nuts may provide some impressive health benefits, but it is best to eat them in moderation.
According to the findings of scientific studies, certain compounds in Brazil nuts may benefit health in a range of ways, such as lowering the risk of heart disease, regulating blood sugar levels, and boosting the body’s antioxidant system.
Brazil nuts are among the best sources of natural selenium, an essential mineral known for its antioxidant properties. Although selenium can promote health, too much can result in selenium toxicity.
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and Unique Brazil Nut
- Cashews are actually the kidney-shaped seeds that adhere to the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree, which is native to the coastal areas of northeastern Brazil.
- The cashew tree made its way to Goa, India, between 1560 and 1565 via Portuguese sailors. From there it spread throughout Southeast Asia and eventually Africa.
- Commercial growers in the 21st century cultivate cashews in warm, humid climates across the globe, with India, Ivory Coast, Vietnam and Brazil among the top producers of 32 cashew countries.
- Cashew nuts are produced in tropical countries because the tree is frost sensitive, adapting to various climatic regions between the latitudes of 25°N and 25°S.
- The cashew tree is large and evergreen, growing to 14 m (46 ft) tall, with a short, often irregularly shaped trunk.
- The leaves are spirally arranged, leathery textured, elliptic to obovate, from 4 to 22 cm (1.6 to 8.7 in) long and from 2 to 15 cm (0.79 to 5.91 in) broad, with smooth margins.
- The flowers are produced in a panicle or corymb up to 26 cm (10 in) long; each flower is small, pale green at first, then turning reddish, with five slender, acute petals from 7 to 15 mm (0.28 to 0.59 in) long. The main pollinators are bats and insects.
- The fruit of the cashew tree is an accessory fruit or false fruit (like the strawberry). The term false fruit (accessory fruit) is sometimes applied to a plant structure that resembles a fruit, but is not derived from a flower or flowers. Called the cashew apple, it ripens into a yellow and/or red structure from 5 to 11 cm (2.0–4.3 in) long. It is edible and has a strong “sweet” smell and a sweet taste.
- The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe that grows at the end of the cashew apple. The drupe develops first on the tree, and then the pedicel expands to become the cashew apple. Within the true fruit is a single seed, which is often considered a nut, in the culinary sense.
- The seed is surrounded by a double shell containing a caustic phenolic resin, urushiol, a potent skin irritant toxin also found in the related poison ivy in the sumac family. Some people are allergic to cashews, but cashews are a less frequent allergen than some other nuts.
- There are 553 Calories calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of raw cashews.
- Cashews are about 21% protein, 46% fat, and 25% carbohydrates.
- Cashews are very nutritious and are packed with protein and essential minerals including copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Sodium is also present in very small quantities. Cashews also contain vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, folate, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), and vitamin K (phylloquinone). Cashews also contain a high content of oleic acid (an omega-9 fatty acid that is also found in olive oil).
- Some of the health benefits of cashews (see below for a more in depth discussion of benefits) include a healthy heart, strong nerve and muscle function, aid in the formation of red blood cells, and an improved bone and oral health. They also good for your eyes and help regulate blood sugar control, increase HDL cholesterol, and increase fat oxidation. With its high antioxidant content, cashew nuts also help in boosting the immune system and preventing the formation of cancer cells.
- In Western countries cashews are eaten mainly as a premium-quality snack food. They have a rich, buttery taste.
- The so-called “raw cashews” available in health food shops have been cooked but not roasted or browned.
- Cashews are commonly used in South and Southeast Asian cuisine and are a characteristic ingredient of numerous chicken and vegetarian dishes of southern India.
- Cashew oil is a dark yellow oil for cooking or salad dressing pressed from cashew nuts (typically broken chunks created during processing).
- Cashews also can be processed into cashew cheese or cashew butter which is similar to peanut butter.
- The shell of the cashew seed yields derivatives that can be used in many applications including lubricants, waterproofing, paints, and arms production, starting in World War II.
- The cashew apple can be eaten fresh, cooked in curries, or fermented into vinegar, as well as an alcoholic drink. It is also used to make preserves, chutneys, and jams in some countries such as India and Brazil.
- In traditional Maya medicine, the leaves or bark of cashew trees can be made into a tea to treat diarrhea.
- Cashew belongs to the family Anacardiaceae, which also includes mango and pistachio.
- Its English name derives from the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree caju, which itself is derived from the Tupian word acajú, literally meaning “nut that produces itself.”
Hazelnut Fun Facts
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Hazelnut is the nut of the hazel and therefore includes any of the nuts deriving from species of the genus Corylus, especially the nuts of the species Corylus avellana.
- Turkey is the largest producer of hazelnuts in the world with approximately 75% of worldwide production.
- Hazelnuts are produced in commercial quantities in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Georgia, Serbia, in the south of the Spanish region of Catalonia, in the UK county of Kent and in the American states of Oregon and Washington.
- The hazelnut became Oregon’s official State Nut in 1989.
- June 1st is National Hazelnut Cake Day.
- Hazelnut oil, which is not excessively greasy and slightly sweet, can be used for food preparation and cosmetic purposes.
- Is it a Filbert or a Hazelnut? There’s truly no wrong answer. Filbert is the correct name for both the tree and nut. The name is of French origin, and filbert trees were likely first introduced into Oregon by early French settlers. Some thought filbert was derived from St. Philibert, as August 22 is dedicated to him, corresponding to the earliest ripening date of filberts in England.
- Hazelnut is the name coined by the English and applied to the native species by early settlers. In 1981, the Oregon Filbert Commission decided to conform to the common standard and began emphasizing “hazelnut.”
- Hazelnut trees can produce until over 80 years of age.
- The hazelnut is unique in that it blooms and pollinates in the middle of winter. Wind carries the pollen from yellow catkins to a tiny red flower, where it stays dormant until June, when the nut begins to form.
- In Ancient Rome, it was customary to offer a hazelnut plant, the Corylus avellana, in the belief that it brought happiness. In the French tradition, on the other hand, this plant symbolizes fertility.
- In Germanic countries, hazelnuts are widely used in the form of flour for preparing cakes. The most famous of these is Linzer Torte, a pastry torte with a redcurrant jam filling.
Interesting facts about hazelnuts
Facts and Picture courtesy of
- The hazelnut is the nut of the hazel and therefore includes any of the nuts deriving from species of the genus Corylus, especially the nuts of the common hazel (Corylus avellana).
- It also is known as cobnut or filbert nut according to species.
- There are 14 to 18 species of hazel. The nuts of all hazels are edible.
- In 1995, evidence of large-scale Mesolithic nut processing, some 9,000 years old, was found in a midden pit on the island of Colonsay in Scotland. The evidence consists of a large, shallow pit full of the remains of hundreds of thousands of burned hazelnut shells.
- Hazelnuts have a rich lore, and many myths surround them. References to them abound in ancient Greek and Roman writings and mythology and in the Bible, where they are mentioned for their nutritional and healing power.
- There are different types of hazelnuts across the world, including in Europe, Asia and North America.
- The plants range from 3 to 36 meters (10 to 120 feet) in height.
- The leaves are deciduous, rounded, 6–12 cm (2.5-5) in long and across, softly hairy on both surfaces, and with a double-serrate margin.
- The flowers are produced very early in spring, before the leaves, and are monoecious with single-sex wind-pollinated catkins. Male catkins are pale yellow and 5–12 cm (2-5 in) long, while female catkins are very small and largely concealed in the buds with only the bright red 1–3 mm (0.004-0.12 in) long styles visible.
- The fruit is a nut, produced in clusters of one to five together, each nut held in a short leafy involucre (“husk”) which encloses about three quarters of the nut. The nut is roughly spherical to oval, 15–20 mm (0.6-0.8 in) long and 12–25 mm (0.5-1.0 inch) broad, yellow-brown with a pale scar at the base. The nut falls out of the involucre when ripe, about 7–8 months after pollination.
- Hazelnuts are harvested annually in mid-autumn. As autumn comes to a close, the trees drop their nuts and leaves. Most commercial growers wait for the nuts to drop on their own, rather than using equipment to shake them from the tree. The harvesting of hazelnuts is performed either by hand or, by manual or mechanical raking of fallen nuts.
- Once harvested, the nuts are dried, cleaned and sent to the cracking plant where they are sorted, cracked, shelled, calibrated, selected and then packed.
- The sweet-tasting, cream-colored kernel is small and round, with a pointed tip. Its thin, dark brown skin is faintly bitter, so some people like to remove this before eating.
- There are 628 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of hazelnuts.
- Hazelnuts contain vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and healthy fats.
- Particularly in high amounts are protein, dietary fiber, healthy fats, vitamin E, thiamin, phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium. Several B vitamins like riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, pyridoxine, and pantothenic acid have appreciable content. In lesser, but still significant amounts are vitamin K, calcium, zinc, and potassium.
- Some of the health benefits of hazelnuts include their ability to balance cholesterol levels, increase heart health, reduce blood pressure and clots, boost the immune system, aid in weight loss, help manage diabetes, improve digestive function, optimize the body’s metabolism, increase skin health, prevent cancer, increase cognitive function, protect against viral and fungal infections, and increase red blood cell count.
- The main hazelnut producing countries are: Turkey, Italy, USA, Azerbaijan and Georgia. In the United States, Oregon accounted for 99% of the nation’s production.
- Hazelnuts are used in confections to make pralines, chocolate truffles, hazelnut paste products and combination with chocolate.
- Ferrero SpA, the maker of Nutella and Ferrero Rocher, uses 25% of the global supply of hazelnuts. The hazelnuts used in Nutella originate from Turkey and Italy, grown mainly by small holders.
- In the United States, hazelnut butter is being promoted as a more nutritious spread than its peanut butter counterpart, though it has a higher fat content.
- In Austria and especially in Vienna, hazelnut paste is an important ingredient in the world famous torts(such as Viennese hazelnut tort) that are made there.
- Hazelnut is popular as a coffee flavoring, especially in the form of hazelnut latte.
- Vodka-based hazelnut liqueurs, such as Frangelico, are also increasing in popularity.
- Hazels also offer many values for the ecosystem. They provide a nutritious food for animals, such as squirrels and birds, who also serve as dispersal agents for reproduction of the plants.
- A number of cultivars of the common hazel and filbert are grown as ornamental plants in gardens.
- Divining rods were made out of Y-shaped hazel tree branches to locate underground springs, buried treasure, and minerals and ores.
- In ancient Roman times, it was a custom to donate hazel plants to bring happiness. It was the same in France where the plant was given as a wedding gift to symbolise fertility.
- Greek physicians would recommend crushed hazelnuts to cure coughs and the common cold.
6. Peanuts –
Peanut Fun Facts
Facts and Picture courtesy of
Peanuts are not actually a nut. The peanut is a part of the legume family because of its edible pod, or shell, and seeds, or peanuts, within the shell. The peanut is actually closer related to a bean or a pea than it is to an actual nut.
- It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.
- There are four types of peanuts grown in the USA — Runner, Virginia, Spanish and Valencia.
- The average American consumes more than six pounds of peanuts and peanut butter products each year.
- Peanuts contribute more than $4 billion to the USA economy each year.
- March 8th is National Peanut Cluster Day.
- September 13th is National Peanut Day.
- There are enough peanuts in one acre to make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.
- Two peanut farmers have been elected president of the USA – Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.
- Grand Saline, TX holds the title for the world’s largest peanut butter and jelly sandwich weighing in at 1,342 pounds. Grand Saline outweighed Oklahoma City’s 900 pounds peanut butter and jelly sandwich in November 2010. Oklahoma City, OK had been the reigning champ since September 7, 2002.
- Astronaut Allen B. Sheppard brought a peanut with him to the moon.
- Tom Miller pushed a peanut to the top of Pike’s Peak (14,100 feet) using his nose in 4 days, 23 hours, 47 minutes and 3 seconds.
- Adrian Finch of Australia holds the Guinness World Record for peanut throwing, launching the lovable legume 111 feet and 10 inches in 1999 to claim the record.
- As early as 1500 B.C., the Incans of Peru used peanuts as sacrificial offerings and entombed them with their mummies to aid in the spirit life.
- Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth.
Facts and Picture courtesy of
7. Pecans –
Pecan Fun Facts
Facts and Picture courtesy of
The pecan, Carya illinoinensis, is a species of hickory, native to south-central North America.
- “Pecan” is from an Algonquian word, meaning a nut requiring a stone to crack.
- It would take 11,624 pecans, stacked end to end, to reach the top of the Empire State Building in New York City.
- April 14th is National Pecan Day.
- June 23rd is National Pecan Sandy Day.
- July 12th is National Pecan Pie Day.
- September 21st is National Pecan Cookie Day
- Texas adopted the pecan tree as its state tree in 1919. In fact, Texas Governor James Hogg liked pecan trees so much that he asked if a pecan tree could be planted at his gravesite when he died.
- Albany, Georgia, which boasts more than 600,000 pecan trees, is the pecan capital of the U.S. Albany hosts the annual National Pecan Festival, which includes a race, parade, pecan-cooking contest, the crowning of the National Pecan Queen and many other activities.
- Pecan trees usually range in height from 70 to 100 feet, but some trees grow as tall as 150 feet or higher. Native pecan trees – those over 150 years old – have trunks more than three feet in diameter.
- There are over 1,000 varieties of pecans. Many are named for Native American Indian tribes, including Cheyenne, Mohawk, Sioux, Choctaw and Shawnee.
- The U.S. produces about 80 percent of the world’s pecan crop.
- Before a shelled pecan is ready to be sold, it must first be cleaned, sized, sterilized, cracked and finally, shelled.
Facts and Picture courtesy of
- Pecans are one of the most popular edible nuts native to North America and Mexico.
- The history of pecans can be traced back to the 16th century.
- The only major tree nut that grows naturally in North America, the pecan is considered one of the most valuable North American nut species.
- Originating in central and eastern North America and the river valleys of Mexico, pecans were widely used by pre-colonial residents.
- Pecans first became known to Europeans in the 16th century. The first Europeans to come into contact with pecans were Spanish explorers in what is now Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico.
- Although wild pecans were well known among native and colonial Americans as a delicacy, the commercial growing of pecans in the United States did not begin until the 1880s.
- The name “pecan” is a Native American word of Algonquin origin that was used to describe “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.”
- Pecan trees may live and bear edible nuts for more than 300 years.
- The pecan tree is a large deciduous tree, growing to 20–40 m (66–131 ft) in height, rarely to 44 m (144 ft). It typically has a spread of 12–23 m (39–75 ft) with a trunk up to 2 m (6.6 ft) diameter.
- The leaves are alternate, 30–45 cm (12–18 in) long, and pinnate with 9–17 leaflets, each leaflet 5–12 cm (2–4.7 in) long and 2–6 cm (0.8–2.4 in) broad.
- Pecan trees have both male and female flowers on the same tree that are wind pollinated. The male flowers form hanging catkins [photo below]; the female flowers are arranged in tight clusters at the ends of the shoots.
- A pecan, is not truly a nut, but is technically a drupe, a fruit with a single stone or pit, surrounded by a husk. The husk itself is aeneous, that is, brassy greenish-gold in color, oval to oblong in shape, 2.6–6 cm (1–2.4 in) long and 1.5–3 cm (0.6–1.2 in) broad. The outer husk is 3–4 mm (0.12–0.16 in) thick, starts out green and turns brown at maturity, at which time it splits off in four sections to release the thin-shelled seed.
- The seeds of the pecan are edible, with a rich, buttery flavor.
- The pecan may be eaten raw, sweetened or salted. It is widely used in pastries, such as coffee cakes, and often in conjunction with chocolate. In the southeastern United States the pecan pie, consisting of pecans baked in a clear custard, and the pecan praline candy are traditional sweets. Pecans are also a major ingredient in praline candy.
- Pecans are among the most nutritious of all nuts. There are 691 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of pecans.
- Pecans contain protein, fiber, amino acids, fats, starch and sugars. They also contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals – including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins and zinc.
- Some of the health benefits of pecans include reduced risk of high cholesterol levels, hypertension, diabetes, gallstone disease and cancer. It has antioxidant properties and helps in weight management. It is also helpful in protecting the nervous system and may delay the progression of age-related motor neuron degeneration, such as diseases like ALS.
- There are over 1,000 varieties of pecans and many are named for Native American Indian tribes (Cheyenne, Mohawk, Sioux, Choctaw and Shawnee). About 20 are in commercial use.
- The United States produces more than 80 percent of the world’s pecans.
- Pecan-producing state in the United States has been Georgia, followed by Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma; they are also grown in Arizona and Hawaii.
- Outside the United States, pecans are grown in Australia, Brazil, China, Israel, Mexico, Peru, and South Africa.
- The world’s largest pecan nursery is located in Lumberton, Mississippi.
- There are about 78 pecans used in every pecan pie!
- In 1920 commercial shelling equipment brought unshelled pecans to consumers for the first time.
- Pecans were one of the most recently domesticated major crops.
- Because wild pecans were readily available, many Native American tribes in the U.S. and Mexico used the wild pecan as a major food source during autumn.
- In addition to the pecan nut, the wood is also used in making furniture, in hardwood flooring, as well as flavoring fuel for smoking meats.
- In 1919, the 36th Texas Legislature made the pecan tree the state tree of Texas where the town of San Saba claims to be “The Pecan Capital of the World.” Several other American towns and regions host annual events celebrating the pecan harvest.
- n 1995, Georgia pecan wood was selected by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games to make the handles of the torches for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. These pecan-wood made torches were carried in the relays which took the torches from Athens, Greece to the United States, then all around the country, culminating with the lighting of the Olympic flame in Atlanta on July 19, 1996.
- Astronauts took pecans to the moon in two Apollo space missions.
8. Pistachios –
Pistachio Fun Facts
Facts and Picture courtesy of
Pistachios come in many colors. Many different countries dye pistachios to make them more eye-catching. In the U.S. pistachios were dyed red to disguise imperfections in the shells and to make them stand out in vending machines. They are normally green.
- 98% of the pistachios produced in the United States are from California. Iran is the largest producer of pistachios in the world.
- February 26 is National Pistachio Day.
- Pistachios are one of the oldest flowering nut trees, and are one of the only two nuts mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 43:11). Humans have eaten pistachio nuts for at least 9,000 years.
- According to legend, pistachios were featured in the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon, built about 700 B.C. by King Nebuchadnezzar for his wife Amytis.
- In the first century A.D., Emperor Vitellius introduced Rome to the pistachio. Apicius, Rome’s Julia Child of the first century, includes pistachios in his classical cookbook.
- Perhaps a true royal nut, the Queen of Sheba loved pistachios. In fact, she demanded that the entire region’s pistachio harvest be set aside for her.
- Pistachios are related to the mango and the spice sumac.
- In China the pistachio is known as “the happy nut” and in Iran as “the smiling nut”. Pistachios are also known as “the green almond”.
Facts and Picture courtesy of
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- In a large bowl, toss together the pistachio nuts, hazelnuts, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/2 cup sugar.
- Unroll thawed phyllo pastry, and cover with a damp towel to prevent drying and cracking. Brush a 10×15-inch jellyroll pan with melted butter using a pastry brush. Lay one sheet of pastry onto the buttered pan, and brush with more butter. Repeat until there are 8 buttered sheets of dough stacked. Sprinkle some of the nut mixture over this layer, then cover with 3 more layers of pastry, each brushed with butter. Sprinkle more of the nut mixture, then 3 layers of buttered pastry. Repeat this pattern until the nut mixture is gone, reserving 8 layers of pastry for the top. Each time a layer of pastry is added, it must be brushed with the melted butter.
- Cut the pastry into strips, then into diamonds. Pieces should be somewhat small because they are so sweet. At this point, each piece may be studded with a whole clove. Heat the remaining melted butter until boiling, and drizzle it evenly over the whole pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven until evenly golden, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- While the pastry is baking, combine the remaining 3 cups sugar, water, honey, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- When the pastry comes out of the oven, immediately pour the syrup evenly over the entire pan. Be careful when pouring; the hot syrup may cause the butter in the pastry to boil up and splatter. Allow baklava to cool to room temperature before serving. Remove whole cloves from pieces before eating.
9. Walnuts –
Interesting Walnut Facts
Facts courtesy of
- Walnuts are the oldest known tree food — they date back to 10,000 BC!
- English walnuts (also known as Persian walnuts) originate in Central Asia and were introduced to California in the 1700s.
- 99% of the commercial U.S. supply and 3/4 of the world trade of walnuts now come from California.
- Walnuts have always been considered important for their medicinal properties, including curing bad breath, reducing inflammation, and healing wounds.
- More recently the nutritional benefits of walnuts have become well-known, especially their omega-3 fatty acid content.
- The Greeks called walnuts karyon, meaning “head,” because the shell resembles a human skull and the walnut kernel itself looks like a brain!
- Like today, a common culinary use of walnuts in the 17th-19th centuries was in salads.
- Walnuts are only harvested once a year, between September and November.
- California has about 227,000 walnut-bearing acres, and in 2010 the walnut crop is expected to be 510,000 short tons, a record production!
- There are more than 30 varieties of commercially produced walnuts!
Facts and Picture courtesy of
Interesting facts about walnuts
Caramelised Celeriac Mash with Spiced Walnuts