Walnut oil is a versatile nut oil that is cold pressed from dried Persian walnuts. The lightly colored oil is well liked in salad dressings, on pastas, and in many desserts. It can be used as a cooking oil; however, high temperatures can alter the taste and the quality of the oil. Another common use of walnut oil is as a massage oil as it is has many benefits for the skin. The oil also works as a paint thinner as well as a finish for wood projects.
Normally, walnut oil is not used in cooking because the high temperatures tend to destroy the antioxidants and other nutrients that it contains. High temperatures also reduce the flavor and cause the oil to become slightly bitter. As a result, it is mainly used in cold dishes, such as in a bread dipping or a salad dressing. Not only is it great in green and garden salads but in fruit salads as well.
The versatile nut oil can be mixed with other herbs and spices and used as a marinade, or brushed on meats, vegetables, and even fruits before grilling. It also works to drizzle the oil over the food, such as pasta, potatoes, and soups, prior to serving. In stir-fries and salads, the oil can be used in conjunction with crushed walnuts or other nuts for a rich flavor.
As walnut oil does not give an aftertaste, it is often used to finish wooden utensils, bowls, and other wooden items that come in contact with food. The finish helps to protect against the absorption of water and alcohol. Because of its ability to dry quickly, the oil was often used as a paint thinner by painters during the Renaissance age.
There are also many health benefits associated with walnut oil. Its ability to increase blood circulation makes it a good oil to improve heart health. The oil is rich with antioxidants, which help to neutralize harmful free radicals that contribute to premature aging and many degenerative diseases. Many skin problems, such as psoriasis, fungus, and eczema, can also be eliminated with walnut oil. The pleasant aroma and its ability to dry quickly make the oil a favorite for massage therapists because it leaves the skin feeling clean and soft.
After opening, walnut oil should be stored in a dark and cool place to help increase the shelf life, which is only about six months to a year. It is not as commonly used as other types of oils because the price is generally higher. The qualities such as the taste and aroma, however, make the extra price and reduced shelf life well worth it for many consumers.