What are my special features?
The Northdown Clawnut is part of the walnut (Juglandaceae) family. The trees are able to produce nuts that are up to twice the size of commercial walnuts. The nut has a large uneven shell similar to a walnut, but with a small sweet white kernel inside. Being similar to walnuts, they are a very versatile, yet underused ingredient. They can be eaten pickled, wet or dried out and can be picked between June and October.
What is my history?
It is believed the Northdown Clawnut was brought to England by the Romans in AD43, who cultivated walnut trees at Richborough Castle in East Kent.
In the 1920s the Ministry of Agriculture sought to identify the best fruiting British walnut trees in order to revive the waning walnut industry. Of the 160 trees chosen, 9 were Northdown Clawnut.
Why am I forgotten?
Very few planters have the courage to plant walnut trees. After planting a 4 year old tree it takes approximately 4 years for it to bear fruit and another 4 to get a full crop. The lack of walnut trees planted recently may mean that in another 50 years the last walnut trees in England die out. Trees planted by Victorian planters will soon reach their allotted life span of 120 – 150 years.
The lack of detail surrounding the history and origins of the Northdown Clawnut, combined with the low number of trees and availability of nuts means that consumers are relatively unaware of the nut. Reliance on foreign imports of walnuts, means that this unique and versatile relative, may soon be forgotten.
Don’t lose me… cook me!