VIDEO: Winter Fancy Food Show 2018

Wellnut Farms debuts indulgent walnut butters: 'We were told by a number of people that it just can’t be done...'

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

The nut butter aisle has expanded well beyond the humble peanut in recent years, with almond, cashew and hazelnut options in many retailers. But walnuts present more of a challenge, says new market entrant Wellnut Farms.

General manager Kevin Amator, a third generation walnut farmer based in Maxwell, California, was speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, where he was showcasing a new line of indulgent walnut butters​ in three flavors: Original, salted caramel, and maple.

He explained:  “As we were getting into this we were told by a number of people that it just can’t be done…”

One challenge is the high levels of healthy polyunsaturated fats in walnuts, which unlike other tree nuts, are an excellent source of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a plant-based source of short chain omega-3 fatty acids (which are distinct from the longer-chain marine-based omega-3s EPA and DHA).

While all those PUFAs have nutritional appeal, however, they can present stability issues, he said (other nuts are higher in monounsaturated fats, which are more stable than PUFAs).

‘There aren’t a lot of products out there where walnuts are the star ingredient’

However, the main challenge is taste, said Aamator, who said the product typically retails at around $11.99/12oz jar, which is a little higher than some other nut butters: “Raw walnut has a tannic​ [astringent] flavor to it, so making a recipe that combines the right varieties of walnuts and the right ingredients without covering it up with too much sugar, that was the big challenge.”

He added: “We use three different varieties of walnuts and some other ingredients as well to counter that tannic flavor; these walnut butters are about 90% walnut, but there are some other ingredients in there as well ​[cane sugar, palm oil, water, sea salt, natural flavors] to counter that tannic flavor."

Compared to the handful of other walnut butters on the market, he claimed, “Our product is unique in the way that it is extremely palatable and cravable; if you just mill walnuts into a butter, it’s difficult to get a cravable indulgent product …

"Walnuts are so nutritious, but there aren’t a lot of products out there where walnuts are the star ingredient… and we’ve had amazing feedback at the show."

Read more about walnuts HERE​.

wellnut original

Ingredients list (Wellnut Farms walnut butter, original):​ Roasted walnuts, powdered raw cane sugar, sustainably-sourced palm oil, water, sea salt, natural flavors. 

FAT IS BACK: Each 32g serving of original Wellnut Farms walnut butter contains 21g fat, 4g protein and 2g sugar. By way of comparison, each 32g serving of Justin’s classic almond butter contains 16g fat, 7g protein and 2g sugar.

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1 comment

Not all omega-3s are the same: ALA is not equivalent to EPA and DHA

Posted by David Stone,

"are an excellent source of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids."

Yes, ALA is an omega-3 fatty acid, but no, walnuts are NOT a plant-based source of what most people think of when they read "omega-3", which implies "fish oil". The desirable effects of EPA and DHA are not provided by ALA despite ALA's status as an omega-3 (and an essential fatty acid). The implied equivalence between ALA and the two marine fatty acids is, in my opinion, a deceptive marketing practice. Many other companies take advantage of dirt-cheap ALA's "omega-3" status and have for years, and I think it is inexcusable.

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