"Natural Healing with Herbs for a Healthier You"

The walnut consists of three distinct parts. The edible portion, known as the kernel or fruit of the nut, is actually the seed of the walnut tree.  It has two lobes. The inner part of the lobe is ivory colored and is covered by a thin brown skin that is firmly attached.

The shell, called the endocarp, is a very hard material made up of two distinct halves firmly sealed together. The shell is light brown in color and has an appearance reminiscent of the convolutions of the human brain. An inedible, thin, cellulose-like membrane separates the two lobes of the walnut inside the shell.

The husk, called the pericarp, covers the shell with a soft, fleshy, green skin that protects the walnut. When fully mature the husk is about two inches in diameter. Not commonly known, is that the very immature green husk is edible. At this stage the shell and the nut have not hardened and both are also edible, though they taste quite sour.


To enhance the flavor of walnuts, toast them lightly. Simply put a cup or two of walnut halves or pieces into a deep, non-stick open skillet over high heat on the stovetop. Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly for one to two minutes, taking care not to burn the nuts. Immediately pour them out onto a dish to cool. If left in the skillet, the residual heat may burn them.


Removing English walnuts from their husks and shells is rarely a problem. Almost any nutcracker will do. Though they are seldom used today, a nut pick can be quite handy for pulling the walnut out from its shell.


Chopping nuts can be done in the food processor using the pulse-chop method. If you only have a few nuts to chop, simply break them up by hand. If you want coarsely ground walnuts, use a nut mill, an item that may be available in kitchen shops.

Walnut Oil

Though the walnut oil was used for many purposes, the first pressing of the walnut kernel was highly prized by chefs for its lightness and delicate flavor. High in polyunsaturates, walnut oil is also rich in gamma-tocopherol, a form of Vitamin E considered nutritionally superior. Since it is so high in antioxidants, the gamma-tocopherol protects the oil from becoming rancid quickly.

In France during the eighteenth century, before walnuts were pressed into oil, they were stored for two to three months to cure. To extract walnut oil, the nuts were first crushed into a paste. The most highly valued oils were achieved by heating the paste delicately to bring out the best flavor of the nuts. Next, the nuts were pressed to extract the oil. Oil could also be extracted from walnuts without heating, but heating was preferred, resulting in exceptional flavor. It takes about four pounds (approximately 2 kilograms) of nuts to press out a scant quart (a liter) of oil.

Aside from the delicacies of the table, walnut oil served rather diverse purposes. The ancient Egyptians used the oil in the embalming of their mummies. Parts of Europe where walnuts were plentiful used a lower quality of the oil to light their oil lamps. In nineteenth century France walnut oil was used in the church as holy oil.

European artists favored walnut oil as a paint medium to be mixed with pigment. In fact, many of the French impressionists preferred it to poppy and linseed oils that actually surpassed it in quality. The paintings of Monet, Pissaro, and Cezanne carry traces of walnut oil as shown by chemical analysis.

Using Walnut Oil

All vegetable oils are high in calories, and all should be used sparingly. Walnut oil contains 260 calories per ounce. One tablespoon contains 120 calories and 14 grams of fat. Use small amounts as a salad dressing or drizzle delicately over steamed vegetables.

Mode of Administration: Comminuted drug for decoctions and other galenic preparations for external use.

  To prepare a decoction, soak 2 teaspoons of herb in 1 cup of water, boil and strain.  An infusion is prepared by using 1.5 g of finely cut herb, soak in cold water, bring to simmer and strain after 3-5 minutes.

Daily Dosage:
  The average daily dose for external use 3-6 g of herb.
by Joel Brian Berry
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