Buying whole walnuts (round timber) in the market, you may stumble upon a pig in a poke. The sellers unanimously insist that only they have fresh fruits harvested this year, with the finest shells and with a high yield of “butterfly”. But how can you at first glance determine the quality of a walnut so as not to throw your money away?
Today we will tell you how to choose quality walnuts. This information is useful for everyone. Both for traditional buyers and for young entrepreneurs who are going to buy nuts in bulk (this is very cheap) and sell the peeled kernels at a higher price.
Experienced walnut growers know not only how to grow walnuts, but also that you need to buy nuts with a moisture meter. The first thing to remember before buying: about 25 kg of round timber is placed in a regular (sugar) bag. Second: September-October is the time of mass harvesting of walnuts.
At the time of harvest, the nuts have about 40% moisture. Much depends on the variety and the period when they were harvested. So that the fruits do not deteriorate, they must be washed, removed excess moisture and spread in a thin layer on racks with a grate for drying. In this form, the nuts are dried at low humidity and room temperature for about 30 days, or even longer, until the humidity drops to 15–20%. On shelves, nuts in shells are stored for no more than 6 months.
Therefore, if you buy nuts in early fall, they may be fresh. But if the bag weighs more than 25 kg, the nuts need additional drying.
When in doubt about the weight of the nuts, ask the seller to weigh the bag you are buying. If the scales show 35 kg, then the nut is either from a fresh harvest, or artificially saturated with moisture.
Cunning vendors soak last year’s nuts in water for several hours to increase their weight. These shenanigans are easily recognizable by their smell. Take a handful of nuts from the middle of the bag and sniff. Last year’s nuts will have a specific damp smell. Very similar to the smell of laundry not hung in time after washing.
To finally make sure of the quality of the purchased raw materials or to expose an unscrupulous seller, do not hesitate to taste the nut. Fresh kernels will be moderately moist, tasty and not bitter. With a slight nutty smell and taste. If the bag weighs significantly less than the specified weight, you most likely have overdried nuts from last year. You don’t need to buy these.
The shell is a sign of a high quality kernel. Often, instead of slaughter, the seller can palm off the buyer with thick-skinned or “greedy” nuts, from which it is very difficult to get the kernel, and sometimes it is simply impossible. In production, such nuts are considered a marriage; they try to avoid them when processing.
If the nut is not very large, but rather heavy, oblong in shape with a loose shell and a sharp nose, there is a chance that it is “greedy”. For more confidence, try splitting it with your hands. If the shell does not give in or splits into two halves, it is definitely not worth buying such fruits.
The shell of last year’s nuts is dark, with a musty odor. These nuts are light in weight, as the kernel has dried out over time. To recognize last year’s nuts, take a few fruits in your hands and shake each one near your ear. If, when shaking, you hear a nut hitting the shell, do not buy them.
Sometimes old nuts are washed with bleach, peeled and dried again to sell them to an untrained buyer. But even from them comes the smell of dampness, sweetness and mold (especially if cracked), which indicates that the nuts were stored and dried incorrectly. Fresh walnuts have a light shell, they are neither heavy nor light in weight, and there is no sound when shaken.
If you find food (nut) moth in a bag, do not buy from this seller! Even if the insect shows no signs of life, its larvae can sleep peacefully between the nuts. The shell will be suspiciously smooth and light, and traces of chitinous particles and waste products of larvae will be visible in the bag between the nuts.
If the shell is damaged, there are spots, traces of mold, fungus or disease on it, with a 100% probability we can say that such a nut is also infected inside. Even if you find 1-2 bad nuts in a bag, bacteria will spoil the whole batch in a very short time. Under favorable conditions, mold can settle in the room where the nuts are stored, and it is almost impossible to remove it.
If you buy multiple bags, check each one carefully. It happens that sellers mix fresh nuts with last year’s ones. Take a few from the bottom, middle, and top of the bag. Smell, crack the nuts and taste. If in all respects the nuts suit you, buy without a doubt.
When buying, the percentage of kernel to shell is of great importance. To determine this figure, take 10 medium sized nuts from one batch and weigh them. The resulting weight was divided by 10 to find out the weight of one nut. It must be at least 15 grams.