Walnuts are one of the most popular and versatile of all nuts. When picked young, they're known as wet and their milky white kernels are mainly used for pickling. Far more common is the dried nut, either shelled or unshelled. The brown-skinned kernel has a ribbed surface, which looks like two halves of the brain.
Slightly bitter in flavour, walnuts are good eaten raw or cooked, in either sweet or savoury dishes, and are particularly useful for baking.
Shelled walnuts are available all year round. Unshelled walnuts tend to be available in our winter months, from December to February.
Choose the best
If buying unshelled walnuts, look for those that are uncracked, with no holes. Shelled walnuts should be plump and crisp. Avoid any that look shrivelled.