Walnut Oil

Switzerland

Bâle-Campagne

Jura

Soleure

Oil

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Walnut Oil

In some parts of the Alps-Valle d’Aosta, the French Rhône Alps and the northwestern Swiss cantons-the extraction of
walnut oil is still common practice today. This reflects the widespread tradition of producing plant-based oils other than olive oil, characteristic of the countries north of the Alps.
These oils were cheaper than butter, and the use of walnut oil in the kitchen has a long history. Known and appreciated by the Romans, during the Middle Ages it was used as both a food and a lamp fuel. One of the oldest surviving mentions of cooking with walnut oil in Switzerland dates back to the 16th century. The documents are stored in the archives of the city of Neuchâtel, in the French-speaking canton of the same name, one of the oil’s historic production areas. The documents describe two types of walnut oil: a small production of cold-pressed oil used by nobles, and a hot-pressed oil destined for lower social classes and the production of medicines. The hot extraction produced higher yields and gave the oil a pleasant toasted, fruity note. For these reasons it became the only production technique common in Switzerland in the early 20th century and later between the two wars.
After the Second World War the consumption of walnut oil fell dramatically, as food technology brought cheap butter, margarine and other vegetable oils to the market. The cultivation of walnuts and the laborious harvesting, drying and shelling of the nuts were abandoned by farmers, surviving only as a marginal, supplementary activity for families. Currently the production of hot-pressed walnut oil is carried out by a few mills, dotted around the cantons of Vaud, Bern, Solothurn, Aargau and Zurich.
The dried nuts are picked over, shelled, ground and then baked in the mill’s wood-fired oven at a temperature over 120°C.
The ground nuts are stirred continuously for 30 minutes, so that they cook evenly. The resulting mass is then wrapped in two cloths, an internal one made from cotton or polythene and an external one of jute, and placed in a press. During the pressing, the external layer of jute holds a little of the pressed oil and ensures its slow release. The extracted oil is very aromatic, with pronounced toasted notes. The mass that remains inside the press, the nillon, is dried and used as a flour to make cakes, or further pressed to make a crunchy sweet given to children.

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Walnut cultivation is no longer considered a profitable agricultural activity. Many walnut groves have been abandoned for years, and only a few families continue to tend their own trees. Safeguarding the production of oil allowed the revival of some cultivation in the Vaud canton, where the tradition is still very strong. A few thousand walnut trees have been replanted, and Switzerland's most important extraction mill is active here. The canton of Vaud produces 90 percent of all of the country's walnut oil, but the tradition has also survived in the neighboring cantons, where the mills process small quantities for the local population or for family consumption. The walnuts for the oil are grown by individuals or small-scale local growers. The Presidium wants to support this activity, informing consumers about this centuries-old tradition, to safeguard the walnut trees and keep this local economy alive.

Production Area
Vaud, Bern, Solothurn, Aargau and Zurich cantons

Presidium supported by
Coop Switzerland
Bovey et Fils
Moulin-Huilerie de Severy
1141 Severy
tel. +41 218003333
remarques@huilerie-de-severy.ch
Presidium coordinator
Jean-Luc Bovey
Tel. +41-218003292
remarques@huilerie-de-severy.ch

Slow Food Presidium coordinator
Alessandra Roversi
Tel. +41 796430743
alessandra.roversi@slowfood.ch
Walnut cultivation is no longer considered a profitable agricultural activity. Many walnut groves have been abandoned for years, and only a few families continue to tend their own trees. Safeguarding the production of oil allowed the revival of some cultivation in the Vaud canton, where the tradition is still very strong. A few thousand walnut trees have been replanted, and Switzerland's most important extraction mill is active here. The canton of Vaud produces 90 percent of all of the country's walnut oil, but the tradition has also survived in the neighboring cantons, where the mills process small quantities for the local population or for family consumption. The walnuts for the oil are grown by individuals or small-scale local growers. The Presidium wants to support this activity, informing consumers about this centuries-old tradition, to safeguard the walnut trees and keep this local economy alive.

Production Area
Vaud, Bern, Solothurn, Aargau and Zurich cantons

Presidium supported by
Coop Switzerland
Bovey et Fils
Moulin-Huilerie de Severy
1141 Severy
tel. +41 218003333
remarques@huilerie-de-severy.ch
Presidium coordinator
Jean-Luc Bovey
Tel. +41-218003292
remarques@huilerie-de-severy.ch

Slow Food Presidium coordinator
Alessandra Roversi
Tel. +41 796430743
alessandra.roversi@slowfood.ch

Other info

CategoriesOil