The lead food story in the Fresno Bee this week focused on walnuts and their local availability. An important component of the story was the red walnut, a cultivar developed by University of California breeders a decade ago.
Most walnuts grown in California have a light tan seed coat. The "Robert Livermore" walnut has a red seed coat.
"It has a very interesting color and gives consumers and farmers another option," said Chuck Leslie, staff research associate in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis.
Leslie says the nut does not taste significantly different than ordinary walnuts to him. Fresno Bee reporter Robert Rodriguez quoted a Sacramento food blogger in the story who said the red walnut has a milder flavor and works well in recipes ranging from salads to cookies.
UC's red walnut was named after the late Lake County walnut grower Robert Livermore, said Rachel Elkins, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for Lake and Mendocino counties. The Livermore family owns a historic ranch on Mt. St. Helena that is still in operation.
"Robert Livermore contributed to the breeding program and hence the walnut was named for him," Elkins said. "He managed the Bishop Ranch in San Ramon which is now a large commercial business park, but was a very large fruit and nut ranch."