California Walnut Varieties
There are over 30 different walnut varieties in California. Over time, United States walnuts have evolved and cross-bred from English and Persian walnuts brought here from Europe and the Middle East. The University of California at Davis and a few independent farmers have done much to create the walnuts we eat today.
Walnuts come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. Some flavors are considered mild while others are rich and robust. Walnut varieties can also be more dense than others, and they can fill out the cavern all the way to the shell or leave plenty of room for the perfect crack. Some are great for snacking, others are great for cooking, and some are just the perfect pollenizer.
The most unique and rare are Livermore red walnuts. They have a vibrant red skin and are even less bitter than their traditional English walnut cousins. The most famous walnuts are Chandlers, prized for their larger size, light density, and extra light color. These are the ones you see most on the market today but Chandlers are mild in flavor though. However, many farmers will tell you their favorite walnut might be the Hartley or Payne because of their rich walnut flavor. We hope you try them all so you can find your personal favorite!
Please take a look at the infographics below to get a glimpse of the many varieties of California walnuts we have today. The infographics come from the UC Davis Walnut Germplasm Collection. To get the prefect shelled walnut with all the skin intact as in these pictures, you'll have to carefully hand crack each walnut.
Clockwise From Bottom Left to Bottom Right:
Vina, Livermore, Chandler, Hartley; center is Franquette
Livermore Red Walnuts
The Follow Photos are Courtesy of the UC Davis Walnut Germplasm Collection: