Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Botanically speaking, a nut is a dry fruit containing a single seed and having a hard, woody outer coat. Hazelnuts and sweet chestnuts are true nuts, and so are cashews and macadamia nuts, but in fact most of the other “nuts” that we buy in the shops are not nuts at all. They are mostly the inner parts of other kinds of fruits.

Walnuts, pecans and almonds, for example, are the equivalents of peach or plum stones, and until they fall from the trees they are enclosed in tough, leathery cases that correspond to the flesh of the peach or plum. Even the hard shelled coconuts are also the inner parts of the fruit, although here the outer part is thick and fibrous – it is used for coconut matting. Brazil nuts are actually hard shelled seeds that are obtained from ball shaped woody fruits.

Ground nuts or peanuts are the seeds of a leguminous plant, carried in pods. In all these examples, the parts that we actually eat are the seeds or kernels- the embryonic next generation of plants and their food reserves.