National Walnut Day Date in the current year: May 17, 2024

National Walnut Day Walnuts may not be as popular as almonds or peanuts, but they still rank as one of the most popular nuts in the world. National Walnut Day, observed on May 17, was created to celebrate these delicious nuts that have a lot of health benefits.

Walnuts are fruit of any species of tree in the genus Juglans, particularly the English or Persian walnut (Juglans regia). Although they are not true nuts in the botanical sense, walnuts are considered nuts in a culinary sense, like almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and other “nut-like” fruits and seeds.

A walnut has a hard shell and an edible seed. Walnuts can be sold either in their shells or de-shelled. In the former case, the shell can be cracked using a special tool called a nutcracker. Walnuts can be eaten on their own (raw or toasted), pickled, candied, and used as an ingredient, topping or garnish in various dishes. They are also used to produce an edible oil.

Like other nuts, walnuts are rich in unsaturated fats and protein. They’re also a good source of B vitamins and some dietary minerals, such as manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. Walnut oil is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is mostly used in cold dishes because high temperatures reduce its delicate flavor and make the oil slightly bitter.

Various walnut dishes are a staple in Iranian cuisine, since the Juglans regia plant is native to Persia (present-day Iran). Walnuts are also widely used in Georgian cuisine, where they can be found in dishes such as satsivi (poultry served cold with walnut sauce; the sauce itself is also called “satsivi”), badrijani (fried eggplant stuffed with walnut paste) and churchkhela (nuts covered in thickened grape must).

Unlike many other food-related holidays, National Walnut Day has a verified origin story. It was initiated in 1949 by the Walnut Marketing Board, then known as the Walnut Control Board, to promote the consumption of walnuts and support the California walnut industry.

In 1958, Senator William Knowland from California, where most of the walnuts in the U.S. are grown, introduced a resolution to recognize May 17 as National Walnut Day. The resolution was approved by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on March 3, 1958, and the rest, as they say, is history.

To celebrate National Walnut Day, try a walnut recipe or two. For example, walnut pie is always a good idea if you like pie – and who doesn’t? If you’re not a super experienced baker, use premade pie crust to make things easier, and if you do have some baking experience, use any basic pie crust recipe you like.

To make the pie filling, beat 6 tbsp melted unsalted butter, 1 ½ cups brown sugar and 2 eggs together until well mixed. Stir in 2 cups halved or coarsely chopped walnuts. Brush the bottom and sides of the pie crust with lightly beaten egg yolk and bake at 375°F for 5 minutes. Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 350°F for about half an hour, or until the top looks lightly browned and dry. Let the pie cool to room temperature before serving. Happy National Walnut Day!

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