K&K Farms out of Orosi semi-debuted a striking new walnut at the Hollywood farmers market this season. They've actually had the Yolo Red walnut for a few years now, but haven't consistently brought it to market. This year is the first time they've had it in Hollywood, and they may start to bring the nuts to the other markets they go to (both Torrance markets, Cerritos, Palos Verdes, and Westchester) if interest picks up. Prettiness aside, one tasting makes us think that this probably won't be a problem.
The Yolo Red walnut, a very recent UC Davis cross (think 1990s), has a striking red-purple seed coat, or testa, that covers ivory-colored nut meat. The trees were actually a gift to K&K Farms from another family, and when they shelled the first crop, Zach Kano remembers his uncle being very surprised.
"They're really one of the prettiest nuts I've ever seen," said Kano. "I think it's the best thing about it."
Gorgeous, yes, but most walnuts have a heavy tannic quality, bordering on astringency, that makes them somewhat off-limits for more sensitive mouths. The Yolo Red has only the most minimal tannic bite, is very mild, and -- surprisingly -- just barely sweet. They're almost reminiscent of macadamias, with a heavy oil content and almost creamy texture. They're also pretty expensive when shelled, which is how K&K Farms sells them, at nearly double the cost of regular walnuts. Worth it? We wouldn't suggest them for a random snack pack, but properly placed and paired they'd be an impressive addition to an elegant cheese board or dessert. Availability will depend on demand and the crop, so if things pick up, they'll only be around through mid-September.