34 Amazing Nut Facts

34 Amazing Nut Facts




The earliest varieties  of almonds were found in China, carried by traders down the ancient silk road to Greece, Turkey and the Middle East.  Both almonds and dates are mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible. 

Distributing sugared almonds wrapped in tulle as a wedding favor is a tradition dating back to early European history.  The almond “bonbonieres” symbolized children, happiness, romance, good health and fortune. 

Botanically, the almond is a stone fruit related to the cherry, the plum, and the peach.  The next time you eat a peach, crack open the pit.  Inside, you’ll find what looks like a small almond, but don’t eat it.  It’s bitter!


In the mid-1700s, the Franciscan Padres brought almonds to the U.S. by planting almond trees at their missions along El Camino Real, the road that stretched along the California coast to San Diego to Sonoma. 

California provides roughly 80% of the world’s almond supply. 

California almonds are harvested by mechanical shakers that shake the trees.  The almonds fall and are blown onto the ground, where they are blown into windrows and collected for shipment to the huller. 

Brazil Nuts


The majority of Brazil Nuts actually come from Bolivia.  Only about 2% of Brazil Nuts actually come from Brazil. 

Brazil nuts for international trade can come from wild collection rather than from plantations.  This has been advanced as a model for generating income from a tropical forest without destroying it. 

Collecting the nuts can be a dangerous job as the Brazil nuts are heavy and rigid and pose a threat to workers and passers-by.  It is said that an average of six workers per year are killed or wounded as a result of falling Brazil nuts. 




Cashews are not grown in the United States.  Cashews trees require tropical climates such as Brazil, India, Mozambique and Viet Nam. 

The cashew nut grows in a shell hanging under a fleshy, pear-shaped “apple” fruit that is yellow, orange or red in color.  The cashew apple is sweet and nutritious when ripe.  The cashew shell itself is poisonous. Oil from cashew nut shells is used in insecticides, brake linings, and rubber and plastic manufacture.






Are they hazelnuts or are they filberts?  Basically they are two names for the same thing. 

About 75% of the world’s hazelnuts come from Turkey, but Oregon has a good crop as well. 

According to an ancient Chinese manuscript, hazelnuts have been known to the world for nearly 5,000 years.  But the first planted hazelnut tree in the U.S. was in 1858.  In 1878 a Frenchman planted 50 more in Oregon, helping make Oregon the largest center of U.S. production. 




Ever try to crack open a Macadamia Shell?  Save your energy.  It is one of the hardest-shelled nuts in the world. 

In 1857, Macadamia nuts were discovered in the rain forests of Australia.  The tree was named after the scientist and philosopher, Dr. John Macadam. 

The first Macadamia trees to be planted on the Big Island of Hawaii were in 1921.  It took 13 years for the trees to reach maturity and bear fruit to begin being sold on Hawaiian store shelves in 1934. 



While it was thought that peanuts originated in South Africa, the earliest discovery of peanuts is in the ancient Inca tombs in Peru. Excavation sites as early as 3000 BC were covered with peanut shells and other ornaments such as solid gold peanut necklaces. 

The peanut is not a tree nut, but a ground nut.  It is grown in the ground, and not actually a nut at all.  It is a legume, like a bean or pea. 

Peanuts have been in the U.S. since the early days of the American colonies.  But they were known primarily in the South until after the Civil War. Northern soldiers returning home took a taste for peanuts with them back up North, and soon peanuts were popular there too. 

Peanut Butter was popularized during the 1904 World Fair and the nimble nut has been an American economic success story ever since. 

Peanut Oil.  If it is highly refined, most, if not all of the proteins that cause allergens are removed and should be safe for people with allergies. If you are highly-allergenic, consult your doctor before consuming anything cooked in peanut oil, even if it is highly-refined.




Pecans used to grow naturally by the river banks in the South.  Though small, they were sweet and are referred to in the industry as “natives”. 

The larger sizes of pecans were cultivated to be so, and are called “cultivars” or “improved” in industry terms. 

The United States produces half of the world’s Pecan supply with Mexico coming in second. 

Within the U.S., Georgia, New Mexico and Texas are the top Pecan grower/suppliers of Pecans. 




Ever wonder what eating a pistachio right off the tree would taste like?  Workers in the groves used to do it all the time.  Before the pistachios are cleaned, brined and dry-roasted (removing moisture and making them crunchy), they are much like a bean. It’s a little like eating a pinto bean out of a can. 

There is a difference between U.S. pistachios and Iranian or middle-eastern pistachios.  The middle-eastern pistachios are more elongated in shape and their shells not as open.  U.S. pistachios have a rounder, plumper shape and generally their shells are more open.  Some say the middle-eastern pistachios are more flavorful, but this, of course, is subjective. 

Why are some pistachios red?  You don’t see those around much anymore.  Rather, you see the natural beige pistachios.  That’s because harvesting methods have improved.  Processors used to dye the shells red to cover up the stains on the shells.  Now, natural is “in” and the need to dye them red is no longer needed. 

Similar to almonds, pistachios are harvested by mechanically shaking the tree and catching the nuts in a catcher/conveyer unit. 





Walnuts are recognized as the oldest tree food known to man, dating back to about 7000 B.C.  Considered food for the gods in Roman times, walnuts were named “juglans regia” in honor of Jupiter. 

Walnuts were introduced to California by the Franciscan Fathers in the 1700’s. 

Though it is believed that the walnut originated in Persia and the vast region surrounding it, it took on the name English Walnut  due to the English merchant marines whose ships once transported the product for trade to ports around the world. 

The slightly bitter flavor of walnuts is caused by a non-harmful tannic acid in the skin of the nut.  It can be easily removed by blanching the walnuts in boiling water before use.  (Add walnuts to boiling water.  Take pot from heat and let stand for 2 minutes.  Drain walnuts; spread on baking sheet.  Toast at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.)