Have you ever seen a nut like this? Nor had we. Looking for a suitable crop to grow on our Flemish farm, we bumped into an agroforestry expert who introduced us to the heartnut. Having seen and tasted it, we immediately decided to start a small nut plantation.
We planted our orchard between 2010 and 2013. There are about 80 trees and 5 different varieties of heartnut. This diversity is important for good pollination. Our choice was determined by didease and pest resistance, and the quality, size and flavour of the nuts. You can read more about our different varieties in the column on the right.
The heartnut's official name is juglans ailantifolia var. cordiformis and it originated in Japan. It belongs to the walnut family (juglandaceae) and is also known as the Japanese walnut. Heartnuts are mainly grown and eaten in Japan, Canada and the US.
We grow our trees with respect for nature. We only use natural fertilizers and we will never use pesticides or herbicides.
When cracked, the heartshaped halves of the shell come apart, allowing you to get to the fruit inside. The shell is very hard. Instead of an ordinary nutcracker it is advisabe to use a hammer. Otherwise you risk having shrapnel fly around the room.
Click here for detailed cracking instructions.
Once you cracked your nuts, the possibilites are endless.
Heartnuts taste like walnuts, but less bitter and more creamy. It makes the heartnut a very suitable ingredient for all sorts of sweet and savoury dishes.
They're healthy too: they pack a high proteine content and are bursting with omega-3 fatty acids.