Light or Light Amber Walnuts: Knowing the Difference

California Walnuts
Aug 22, 2016
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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

  • Earthy notes
  • Mild flavor
  • Subtle tannins
  • Widely available

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

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

Light Amber Walnuts

  • Ground/chopped as a component of an authentic-looking meat replacement
  • Toasted and puréed for soups
  • Complement 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 handler or supplier for availability.

More information on light and light amber California walnuts can be found by contacting

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