When the Romans settled the area around the Wagram plateau, they introduced the Wagram walnut as an ideal food to eat with the local wine. Local farmers expend a lot of effort preserving this long tradition of walnut growing.
The Wagram wine region extends north of the Danube to the east of Krems. The vast vineyards are planted in loess soil on south-facing hillsides. Excellent Grüner Veltliner grapes flourish here, as do varieties such Frühroter and Roter Veltliner. Since walnuts are highly sensitive to cold winter temperatures and late frosts, they are often grown in locations with mild winters and adequate precipitation such as wine regions. They grow especially well in deep, fresh loamy and clay soils rich in nutrients and lime.
Walnut trees begin bearing fruit between the age of 10 and 20 years old. They do not achieve good yields until their fourth decade and the yields then decline as the trees enter old age. Besides age, the yield depends on location and variety. The trees do not produce the same sized crop each year. The weather plays a key role. The old adage is this: "Good years for walnuts are good years for wine." It is assumed that for every good year there will be two mid-sized harvests and one bad one. In a good harvest, large-crowned trees can yield as much as 150kg of walnuts per tree.
The fruits ripen into walnuts in late September to early October. They are ripe when the fleshy green hull bursts and the nuts fall to the ground. After harvesting, they are freed from the remains of the outer green hulls and washed. Then they must be stored in an airy, dry place to prevent molding. During drying in larger warehouses, the nuts are turned multiple times over the course of several days.
Walnuts are used in many different dishes in Austrian cuisine such as strudel, buchteln and palatschinken, beugerl, kipferl and schnecken. They are also used in Wagram walnut-cherry torte and of course, walnut ice cream. Shelled walnuts are sold whole or as walnut oil or candied nuts (schwarze Nüsse). Another possible use is to harvest the nuts semi-ripe in June. These can be preserved in such a way that they retain a high level of vitamin C (candied also known as "Schwarze Nüsse") or they can be made into walnut liqueur (Nussgeist, Nussschnaps).
The classic is Wagram walnut bread. It is served at every wine tasting event, at heurige wine taverns and in bread buffets at gourmet restaurants.
Our tip: Nuts from Obsthof Lintner in Ottenthal