Seven black walnut cultivars, Brown Nugget, Davidson, Emma K, Football, Sparks 127, Sparrow, and Tomboy, were evaluated by descriptive sensory analysis. Seven trained panelists developed a lexicon for the black walnuts and scored the intensities of the samples for 22 flavor attributes. Results showed that the 7 samples differed significantly (P ≤ 0.05) on 13 of the attributes. For the majority of the attributes, only Emma K differed from the rest of the cultivars by being characterized with lower scores for black walnut ID, overall nutty, nutty-grain-like, nutty-buttery, floral/fruity, oily, and overall sweet. That sample also was higher in acrid, burnt, fruity-dark, musty/earthy, rancid, and bitter attributes. The remaining 6 cultivars showed few differences in individual attribute ratings, but did show some differences when mapped using multivariate techniques. Future studies should include descriptive analysis of other black walnut varieties, both wild and commercial, that could be grown and harvested for production.
Results presented in this article can assist black walnut growers in determining which cultivars to plant and harvest. By knowing which cultivars have specific flavor characteristics, growers can focus time and resources on selected cultivars, therefore resulting in higher quality black walnuts as products to be sold to consumers in various formats. By consciously choosing which cultivars to harvest, black walnut growers could better meet market demand and increase profit.