A few weeks ago I visited northern California with a slew of other food editors and dietitians to see the walnut harvest. This was a super fascinating trip, because while I love incorporating walnuts in my meals, I really didn't anything about them. For example, did you know that 99% of walnuts in the United States are grown in the Central Valley? And that California supplies over 60% of the trade internationally? Seriously impressive.
The walnut tour specifically focused around a visit to Alpine Specific Nut Company located near Ceres, CA. In this medium-to-large size walnut operation I got to see the entire process of how walnuts get from the tree to your plate. Here is a glimpse inside:
These are the walnuts, with the green hull, hanging on a tree:
This industrial machine shakes the trees and the walnuts fall off:
Then this machine sweeps the walnuts up into neat little piles:
Then this thing collects the piles of walnuts:
Then you bring the walnuts to a place where they are hulled, washed, dried, and sorted.
Then the walnuts go to another facility where they are stored in bulk before being shelled:
These are the walnuts being shelled:
These are the walnuts that are separated from the shells:
The walnuts are then packaged and sold, and you buy the walnuts and put them into delicious salads, brownies, etc.
(Image credits: Ariel Knutson)