Why Are Walnuts Bitter?

Walnuts are famous for their earthy and slightly bitter flavor. Where does this bitter flavor come from? We are about to tell you!

Did you know China produces over 40% of the world’s walnuts? Walnuts aren’t just popular in China, Americans, Brits, the French, and Germans also can’t get enough of these nuts. The worldwide consumption of walnuts is 2.2 million metric tons. That is a lot of nuts! Anyway enough walnut stats and production.

Why are walnuts bitter? Walnuts are bitter because their skin is high in tannins which are naturally bitter. Tannins are chemical compounds that bind to proteins and amino acids. Walnuts can also become extra bitter when they are off.

Before you go removing walnut skins, remember that the skin is a big reason why walnuts are so healthy and contain a range of important flavonoids and phenolic acids. If you are hell-bent on removing walnut skins, we will show you how below!

How to Remove Walnut Skins and the Bitterness?

A great way to decrease the bitterness of your walnuts is to remove the skin. But how on Earth do you manage to do that?

The best way to remove walnut skins and reduce the bitter flavor is to blanch them. To blanch walnuts, simply place them in boiling water for one minute. Then remove the walnuts, let them dry, and then the skins should fall off.

Blanching is a great way to significantly reduce the bitter flavor of walnuts. It is estimated that 90% of the bitter tannins found in walnuts are contained in their skin. Once you remove the skin you should be left with delicious nutty and earthy nuts without the bitter aftertaste.

Another effective way to rid your walnuts of their skin is to roast them. All you need to do is to place cracked walnuts on a baking tray in the oven (preheated to high temperatures) and turn down the heat to low. Cook your walnuts for 5 minutes on each side. Don’t let your walnuts go black or brown! Once they are nicely roasted, grab a towel and start rubbing the walnuts. The skin should slide off without too much force.

What Are Walnuts Supposed to Taste Like?

Don’t worry, walnuts are supposed to taste a little bitter. They also taste tangy and earthy with some sharp notes. They aren’t rich or creamy like other nuts but are light with a woody flavor.

A common complaint people have with walnuts is thanks to their bitter flavor. Unfortunately, this bitter flavor is standard in walnuts. You can reduce the bitterness by removing the skin (read above to find out how), as the skin contains most of the walnut’s astringent tannins.

Walnuts have a strange mix of flavors. They taste woody, a little tangy, and even sharp. Walnuts taste like a milder, lighter, and sharper almond. Walnuts are a bit of an acquired taste and are definitely not for everyone.

Do Off Walnuts Taste Bitter?

Off and bad walnuts have a strong and foul bitter taste. These walnuts should be discarded immediately. However, it is normal for fresh walnuts to have a mildly bitter flavor because the nut is high in tannins.

If your walnuts taste bitter, it does not automatically mean they should be thrown away. It is normal for walnuts to have some bitter flavor, but if the bitterness is overwhelming, then that is a sign they are off.

How Long Do Walnuts Last?

Walnuts last for up to 3 months when correctly stored in the fridge and can last for up to 1 year when put in the freezer. To correctly store walnuts, place them in an airtight container.

Walnuts are a fairly hardy nut. They can last for a very long time, especially if their shell is still intact. We prefer to place them in the fridge and eat them within 4 weeks, even though they will still be good for up to 12 weeks!

How To Store Walnuts?

Walnuts can last for a long time, but only if they are stored correctly. If you mess up the storage process, your walnuts will spoil in a flash!

To store walnuts, place them in an airtight container and then place them in the fridge or freezer. In the fridge, they will stay fresh for 12 weeks, and in the freezer, they will stay fresh for the whole year! 

Luckily, you don’t have to do anything fancy to store walnuts correctly. Just keep them out of direct sunlight, and don’t expose them to moisture. If you get those two things right, your walnuts will last for a long time!

Are Black Walnuts Bitter?

Black walnuts are fairly bitter and tend to be more bitter than standard English walnuts. Black walnuts have a stronger overall flavor and are richer, sharper, woodier, and tangier than English walnuts.

While black walnuts are more bitter than your standard walnuts, it should not cause you to retreat in disgust. The bitterness is earthy and, after a while, will start to grow on you. If you are a fan of standard walnuts, you definitely need to sample black walnuts. Fun fact: Black walnuts are 100% wild and not grown in orchards.

Final Thoughts

Walnuts are bitter because their skin is high in tannins which are a naturally bitter chemical compound. However, walnuts should not be overly bitter as this is a sign they are off. You can decrease the bitter flavor by removing the skin. We recommend blanching your walnuts, so the skin comes off easily!

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