Old Dog Ranch Walnuts
by Molly Bradley
Northeast of Berkeley, in the San Joaquin Valley, there’s a farm called Old Dog Ranch. The land was originally used for sheep farming, at least a century ago.
Now? That same land grows walnut trees. And the sheep farmer’s great-great-great granddaughter harvests those walnuts, and seasons, grinds, and refines them by hand to package and sell to you.
The farm is sustainable and was certified organic in 2015, and the walnut trees do especially well in the San Joaquin Valley soil. They provide enough walnuts for Mollie to sell them raw and natural, but also seasoned and turned into butters, thick and coarse in beautiful jars.
But, as with all things natural and seasonal, when she’s harvested all the walnuts, that’s it — until more grow. Old Dog Ranch only makes as much product as the farmland allows — and that makes it all the more delicious.
Mollie sells Old Dog Ranch walnut products at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, which is where Nancy met her. “I look forward every year to getting out to the food show just to say hi to Molly,” Nancy says. “She’s really genuine.”
[process of how Nancy got Molly on board w/ Foodlyn]
We dipped into our personal stock of Old Dog Ranch walnuts the other day for a taste-test.
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These taste so perfectly fresh. They’re the ideal walnut. And I’m surprised by how crisp they are! The maple isn’t sticky or overpowering — it’s like a superlight shell of maple flavor.
The chocolate flavor definitely isn’t strong. If anything, it’s kind of an aftertaste. But it’s really nice and smooth, and nutty — which makes sense. These would be the perfect way to satisfy a chocolate and snack craving, in one fell swoop, without even having to call it dessert.
These are a great way to up your snack-dish game at a dinner party or a (more subdued) house party. They’d also be AMAZING to serve on a cheese board, instead of just regular raw walnuts. But again, they’re also just great snacks.