Walnut recipes

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Pickled Walnuts

  • 110g cooking salt
  • 450g green walnuts
  • 1.8 litres red wine vinegar (or half vinegar and half inexpensive port)
  • 25g fresh ginger, sliced
  • 25g allspice berries
  • 1 tbsp malt
  • 1 tbsp white sugar

To make pickling walnuts worthwhile it is usual to use at least 1.35kg of walnuts. These must be picked green from the tree before an inner shell has begun to form. To test the nut, cut a small slice from the blossom end. There should be no sign of a brown ring denoting the shell forming. How many jars you produce will depend on the size and also the shape of the nuts. Different varieties of tree will produce nuts of varying size and shape. Recipes can be adapted to suit your taste, as some people prefer a sweeter liquid mix than others.

Make a brine from 50g salt dissolved in 600ml water. Put the nuts in a large glass or stainless steel bowl and cover with the brine. Leave in the brine for a week but stir daily. Drain the liquid away and repeat for another week in brine made with the remaining salt. Drain and rinse the nuts and expose to the air until they are black all over, which may take week or more. Steam the nuts for six mins and then cool. Pack into clean, dry jars, preferably with wide necks. Put vinegar (or port and vinegar mix), sliced ginger, allspice, malt and sugar into saucepan, boil for 10 min and pour over nuts. Agitate the jars to expel any air and leave to cool. Cover with vinegar-proof lids and store in a cool, dark place for three months before using.

Rich, dark, nutty brownies

  • 350g good plain chocolate plus 50g of the same chocolate, chopped
  • 225g margarine
  • 3 large eggs
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in a little hot water
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 225g walnut pieces
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 20x20cm square tin, lined and greased

Preheat the oven to 190c. Melt the 350g chocolate and the margarine over hot water, then allow to cool. Beat the eggs, sugar and coffee together. Gradually beat this mixture into the chocolate. Stir well and then fold in the flour, nuts and chopped chocolate. Finally, add the maple syrup. Spread into the tin and bake for about 40min, when a dull crust should have formed on the surface. Cool in the tin and cut into squares when completely cold.

Chicken breasts in cider with walnuts

  • 2 chicken breasts, skinned
  • 25g plain flour
  • 25g butter
  • 50g walnuts, chopped
  • 300ml cider
  • 2 rosy eating apples
  • Small glass of Calvados

Toss the chicken in the flour. Melt the butter in the frying pan over a moderate heat and add the prepared walnuts. Add the chicken to the pan and brown lightly all over. Pour in half the cider, reduce the heat and cook gently until the meat is done. Meanwhile, peel, core and dice one apple and add to the chicken. Put the rest of the cider in a bowl. Use the other apple for garnishing. Quarter it and cut into wedges. When the chicken is cooked, transfer to a warmed dish. Turn up the heat and pour the cider from the bowl into the pan. Stir the contents and reduce if the sauce is too thin. To serve, spoon the sauce over the chicken, place the apple wedges round the chicken and add a dash of Calvados. Serve with new potatoes and green beans or any spring vegetable

Recipes from Cooking With Walnuts by Ann Olley, £12. For details of the book and the Kentish walnut orchards, Tel 01732 882734 or visit kentishcobnuts.com or walnuttrees.co.uk