The best way to shop? With the seasons. So, every 2 weeks at Kitchen Stories, we'll be highlighting a different in-season ingredient along with 3 new recipes. To the market, we go!

A few years back I was staying with some friends on their farm in Austria, just an hour by train outside of Vienna, when I experienced first-hand the process that goes into harvesting, drying, and, last but not least, eating in season walnuts. It was early in the fall, and between tending to the chickens and mucking out the horse’s stalls, we spent many an afternoon picking walnuts that had fallen from the huge trees all over their property.

It was backbreaking work, leaning down to hand-pick the mature walnuts off the wet, leaf-strewn ground before tossing them into huge wicker baskets. Once the basket was full, we’d rinse them off, dry them and put the baskets in a drying room where they’d sit for 1 – 2 weeks before they’d be ready to crack open and eat, freeze, or use for various recipes.

It was a cool experience to see something go through a full cycle from tree to my plate, plus, walnuts are one of my favorite nuts as they play well both sweet and savory and can be used to give a richly nutty, subtly bitter flavor and chunky texture to sauces, cakes, salads, ice creams, stews, and more.

1. When and how to buy walnuts

While the anecdote above is all well and good, let’s face it: Walnuts are not something typically sold as a seasonal ingredient, as you can find them all year-round in most supermarkets. They are most typically sold shelled as whole nutmeats or as pieces, ground and sold as “walnut flour” or “walnut meal.” Depending on your end use, you may choose to buy walnuts whole (for instance as a snack; it’s kind of fun to crack your own nuts), but they’re not available everywhere, and typically only available in season (typically October through November), so keep this in mind should you want to seek them out.

To buy quality shelled walnuts, choose a brand you trust or buy them bulk in your favorite super market—it’s hard to go wrong here. In addition to the nuts themselves, you can buy walnut oils, syrups, or liqueurs.

2. How to store walnuts

Walnuts, like any other nut, need to be stored properly in order to maintain their freshness. The best way to store the wrinkly lobes is, in my humble opinion, in an airtight container or resealable plastic freezer bag in the freezer. You can take them out as needed, and they will keep much longer (about 4 months) than on a shelf in your pantry (about 1 month).

If you have whole, shelled walnuts around, they should keep in a dry, cool-ish place for up to a month in a basket.

3. How to prepare walnuts

Walnuts can be used in so many things, it would be ludicrous to try and spell them all out here. Instead, we’ll let you browse our many recipes featuring walnuts below and instead showcase the flavors that pair well with walnuts, both sweet and savory.

4. What to make next

All week long, we'll be featuring new walnut recipes on Kitchen Stories. Check back to see what's new, then try one for yourself! Here's where to start:

3-ingredient Calabrian walnut cake

3-ingredient Calabrian walnut cake

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Radicchio pasta with gorgonzola and walnuts

Radicchio pasta with gorgonzola and walnuts

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Persimmon and walnut scones

Persimmon and walnut scones

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Endive, burrata, and beet salad with candied walnuts

Endive, burrata, and beet salad with candied walnuts

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Pasta with walnut-ricotta pesto

Pasta with walnut-ricotta pesto

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Muhammara (Middle Eastern walnut and roasted bell pepper dip)

Muhammara (Middle Eastern walnut and roasted bell pepper dip)

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Easy sheet pan meatballs with savory walnut sauce

Easy sheet pan meatballs with savory walnut sauce

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What's your favorite way to enjoy walnuts? Let us know in the comments below or upload and share your best walnut recipe with the community.

More delicious ideas for you