In the Kitchen with Black Walnuts: America’s Indigenous Baking Nut

In the Kitchen with Black Walnuts: America’s Indigenous Baking Nut

In the Kitchen with Black Walnuts: America’s Indigenous Baking Nut

Black walnuts, are a superfood native to the U.S. and one of the very few wild harvested foods commercially available today.  For centuries Native Americans used the nut meats as a food source and the husks for medicine and dyes.  Even today nothing is wasted!  The shells are ground into an eco-friendly abrasive.

Native habitat for Black Walnut in the US

Baking with Black Walnuts is the first goal here, even as I listen to the black walnuts drop on my roof.  One of the earliest recipes in U.S. history is for Honey Black Walnut Bread, shared with Lewis and Clark as they left for their expedition. Providing more protein (over 7 grams per serving) than any other tree nut and a good source of healthy fats and vitamins, they are a great dietary addition. The bold flavor of Black Walnuts is add a depth of flavor that is unmatched and revered by renowned chefs and bakers across the world.

Whether it’s a sweet bread, holiday cake or grandma’s cookies, Black Walnuts can transform an ordinary baking good into a signature family treasure. 

Black Walnut Pumpkin Quick Bread


1 ¾ cup canned pumpkin

2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

2/3 cup water

4 eggs, beaten

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted

3 cups granulated sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

½ tsp. salt

1 cup Black Walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.  Grease or spray 2 standard 1 lb. bread pans or another pan of choice (bundt muffin or cake pans).
  2. Combine pumpkin, water, butter and eggs. Sift or whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Fold dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture, adding black walnuts toward end of incorporation.
  3. Divide batter evenly into 2 loaf pans, one Bundt pan, a 13 X 9” cake pan or evenly between muffin cups.
  4. Bake for 24-30 minutes. Cover with foil if loaves are turning brown to quickly against doneness. Reduce baking time for muffins by 10 minutes or  until toothpick or skewer comes out clean.

If you’re not in the mood for pumpkin, why not try this delicious Maple Black Walnut scone recipe? It will help you start your day out in scrumptious style.

Maple Black Walnut Scones

Ask the Baker:

Do you need to pre-toast black walnuts for more flavor or just include as they are? It is not necessary to toast or roast the nuts prior to baking, but you can if you prefer! Pre-toasting the nuts dries them and will add a subtle crunch and tones down the bold natural flavor of the nuts.

What is the best way to store black walnuts? Because of the high oil content of black walnuts, after you purchase a bag it is best to store them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or freezer. This will stabilize the oils and keep the nuts fresh.

October is when harvesting Black Walnuts is a fall ritual in east central U.S.communities and families.  Tens of thousands of average Americans take time out every fall to pick up nuts from parks, golf courses, woods, and backyards.  Fortunately they can haul them to hulling stations where the nuts are stripped of their inky green husks and weighed for payment. The hulling stations transfer the nuts to a plant in Missouri, the epicenter of the black walnut culture, for shelling, bagging and national distribution for home baking, snacks, ice cream, specialty flour/oil, and a variety of other uses.  

This is just a start.  Find so much more at www.Black-walnuts.com.

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