We’re all nuts, and all nuts seem like nuts to me, but…when is a nut not a nut?
It depends on whether you’re using a culinary or botanical definition. Many nuts are referred to as such because they can be used as nuts in cooking. For example, a soy bean can be used as a nut, but we know it is not one.
Botanically speaking, the following nuts are not nuts: peanuts are seeds from legumes; almonds and pistachios are seeds from “drupes”; pine nuts are seeds from pine trees; cashews are seeds from “accessory fruits”; Brazil nuts are seeds from “capsules”; and macadamia nuts are actually kernels from “follicle” fruits.
So, what then is a nut?
Walnuts, filberts, hazelnuts, pecans, chestnuts, acorns, wingnuts–these nuts are nuts.
And what is the difference between the true nuts and the aforementioned not-nuts?
Well, a nut is a dried fruit with one seed that remains attached to a hard ovary wall (like a walnut). They do not open at maturity (like a pistachio), or release any seeds (like a peanut).
Now, if you’re allergic to nuts, none of the above semantics make any difference. If you’re not, note that the communities around the world called “Blue Zones”–areas with high populations of centenarians, or people with healthy longevity–all eat nuts. Nuts are packed with nutrients like vitamins E and B2; minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium; proteins and fibers; essential fatty acids; the good unsaturated fats–and they make a great snack!
It’s good to be a little nutty!
For more info on Ontario nuts go to www.songonline.ca