Supply & Procurement

California Walnuts are available in a range of different sizes and colors to fit all recipe and menu needs. Check with your walnut distributor to order a specific or preferred format.

The California walnut industry includes nearly 100 handlers and 4,800+ growers. And with more than 99% of the walnuts in the U.S. being grown in the fertile soils of California’s Central Valley, it is likely that the walnuts you already have in stock are from California. That’s great news as that means your walnuts have exceeded the Good Manufacturing Practices guidelines for safe preparation and packaging! But what if you are looking to add walnuts to the menu for the first time or would like to switch purveyors while still ensuring quality ingredients? Well, we’ve got you covered on everything you need to know.

When ordering California walnuts from your restaurant purveyor, it is common to be provided with light walnut halves and pieces. But what about the other options? California walnuts are sold according to size and color, ranging from light to amber, with the lighter walnuts being the most popular for aesthetic reasons. But the difference is more than just color. With each color variation also comes a range of flavor components. Here is a quick rundown of some of the differences between these light and darker walnuts:

Light Walnuts

Light Walnuts:

  • Earthy notes
  • Mild flavor
  • Subtle tannins
  • Widely available
Light Amber Walnuts

Light Amber Walnuts:

  • Robust flavor
  • Smooth / round tannins
  • Slightly sweet finish
  • More economical choice

Knowing the difference in these flavor variations can make a difference in your recipes. Perhaps you already have a walnut gravy that could benefit from a darker walnut? Or maybe you don’t know where to begin incorporating these color variations of California walnuts into your menu. As a starting point, here are some suggested menu applications:

Light Walnuts Application Ideas:

  • Toasted in baked good and breads
  • Pureed for dressings and sauces
  • Chopped for butter crusts
  • Blended for walnut milk
  • Sprinkled on salads

Light Amber Walnuts Application Ideas:

  • Ground / chopped as a component of an authentic-looking meat replacement
  • Toasted and puréed for soups
  • Compliment to rich chocolate desserts
  • Puréed for spreads and sauces
  • Finely chopped for crusting / frying

Your supplier may not offer light amber walnuts. However, most handlers do offer a “combo” product, which is a blend of light to amber walnuts. Check with your restaurant supplier for availability on both color and sizes. Or, If you are interested in contacting a supplier directly, please reference our complete Handler List.

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