A culinary nut is a dry, edible fruit or seed that usually, but not always, has a high fat content. Nuts are used in a wide variety of edible roles, including in baking, as snacks (either roasted or raw), and as flavoring. In addition to botanical nuts, fruits and seeds that have a similar appearance and culinary role are considered to be culinary nuts. Culinary nuts are divided into fruits or seeds in one of four categories: True, or botanical nuts: dry, hard-shelled, uncompartmented fruit that do not split on maturity to release seeds; Drupes: fleshy fruit surrounding a stone, or pit, containing a seed (e.g. almonds); Gymnosperm seeds: naked seeds, with no enclosure (e.g. pine nuts); Angiosperm seeds: unenclosed seeds within a larger fruit (e.g. peanuts). Nuts have a rich history as food. For many indigenous peoples of the Americas, a wide variety of nuts, including acorns, American beech, and others, served as a major source of starch and fat over thousands of years. Similarly, a wide variety of nuts have served as food for Indigenous Australians for many centuries. Other culinary nuts, though known from ancient times, have seen dramatic increases in use in modern times. The most striking such example is the peanut. Its usage was popularized by the work of George Washington Carver, who discovered and popularized many applications of the peanut after employing peanut plants for soil amelioration in fields used to grow cotton.
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