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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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nuts are impossible to define in a manner which would be compatible with popular usage yet acceptable to botanists. In this Companion popular usage is preferred, so the groundnut (a legume, also called peanut) and the chufa nut (a tuber) are allowed to shelter under the umbrella word. (Incidentally, some other languages lack an umbrella word equivalent to nut. Noix in French looks like one, but just means walnut.)

Nuts are highly nutritious. Some contain much fat (e.g. pecan 70 per cent, macadamia nut 66 per cent, brazil nut 65 per cent, walnut 60 per cent, almond 55 per cent); most have a good protein content (in the range of 10–30 per cent); and only a few have a very high starch content (notably the chestnut, ginkgo nut, and acorn). The water content of nuts, as they are usually sold, is remarkably low, and they constitute one of the most concentrated kinds of food available. Most nuts, left in the shell, are also remarkable for their keeping quality, and can conveniently be stored for winter use.