The walnuts used to make walnut flour originated in Asia Minor, which today makes up most of Turkey. The first documentation of walnut tree cultivation was in Babylon, 2000 BCE. There is archaeological evidence that points to walnuts being consumed in Europe eight millennia ago. They may have been eaten even earlier. They both featured in the Greek and Roman diets and were considered valuable for medicine as well as for food.
First-century naturalist Pliny the Elder warned about supposed negative health effects of walnuts. He imagined that walnuts could cause health issues to someone who merely sat beneath a walnut tree. Nonetheless, walnuts were among the foods left on tables by fleeing Pompeians when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.
In the 8th century, Charlemagne had his orchards seeded with walnut trees and walnuts were as good as currency as far as tithes to the French church were concerned.
Returning from the Crusades, Crusaders brought the Arab love of cooking with nuts back with them. Nut pastes had long been used in Arab cookery and now became a part of various European dishes. Walnuts were used for this purpose and would become the basis of various sauces.
The specific type of walnut used to make walnut flour are called English walnuts. English walnuts would be imported into America by Spanish monks who cultivated them at their missions in California.
Today, China is the world’s leading walnut producer. The USA, Turkey, and Iran follow.
Walnut flour flavor profile
In addition to giving baked goods a coarse texture, walnut flour also provides a sweet and nutty flavor with a hint of earthiness.
Health benefits of walnut flour
Walnuts are believed to be among the most nutritious nuts. Even though walnut flour is made from kernels that have already been pressed for walnut oil, walnut flour still provides various health benefits because of nutrients like:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Walnuts are not only rich in omega 3 fatty acids, but they are also the only nut that contains alpha-linoleic acid (ALA).
- Protein: Like walnuts, walnut flour contains a considerable amount of protein per serving.
- Dietary fiber: Walnut flour is rich in dietary fiber, which makes it important for health in many different ways.
The nutritional profile of walnut flour makes it effective for treating and preventing conditions like:
- Heart disease: The ALA and dietary fiber in walnut flour can help to lower your risk of heart disease.
- Cognitive decline: Recent studies show walnuts to be effective for improving cognitive function among people who eat walnuts regularly. These people perform at higher levels on cognitive tests. This benefit is likely due to the amount of omega 3 fatty acids found in the nuts.
- Diabetes: Walnut flour has a glycemic index of 0, making it one of the best flours for people with diabetes or who are prediabetic.
- Celiac disease: Walnut flour is a gluten-free flour, which means that people with celiac disease and other conditions that result in gluten intolerance can safely consume it.
- Cancer: The high omega 3 fatty acid content in walnuts may make it valuable for preventing cancer.
Use walnut flour to replace a portion of wheat flour in a recipe to improve its nutritional profile and to give it a coarser texture. You can also use it to replace all of another nut flour in a gluten-free recipe or as a part of a nut flour blend. Use walnut flour to bread fried foods and for making pie crusts.
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