Heartnuts: A nut that’s hard to crack
Yesterday while shopping at Karma I noticed some interesting nuts in the corner, next to in-shell walnuts and hazelnuts: heartnuts, they were called. Michael, the produce manager, happened to be in the store so I asked him about them. He said they were similar to a walnut but without the astringency – and that they required a hammer to open. Sounded interesting, so we packed a few up to take home and tried them today.
Michael was right. You do need a hammer, and like all nuts, some will be easy to open and some end up in crumbs.
According to information on the interwebs, heartnuts are a variety of Japanese walnut. The tree apparently doesn’t grow true to seed, so certain varieties have been developed for grafting. According to this website, a variety called Imshu is grown in the Niagara region – perhaps this is the one I tried?
In any case, they do taste like a non-bitter walnuts, and bonus: they didn’t make my mouth itchy, like walnuts tend to do (although I eat them so rarely that they don’t do it as bad as they once did). And perhaps most important: how gorgeous are the shells? I can’t bear to throw them in the green bin.