Hazelnuts

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Hazelnuts are the fruits of the hazel tree. It’s also known as filbert or cobnut based on their species. The trees are native to the Northern Hemisphere. It has been in existence from time immemorial. But, in 1995, evidence of large-scale Mesolithic nut processing that was found out to be around 8,000 years old was discovered in a midden pit in Scotland. This large, shallow pit was full of the remains of hundreds of thousands of burnt hazelnut shells. Greeks and Romans also ate these nuts due to their exceptional flavor. They’re nutty, toasty, musty, and earthy at the same time.

Thus, they’re popular to be used in making confections like pralines, chocolates, and truffles. It’s also common for them to be turned into spreads like Nutella, and liqueur such as Frangelico. If pressed, they can give hazelnut oil, which is commonly used as a cooking oil.

Classification Information:
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Corylus L.
Species: varied (18 species)
Binomial Name: varied

Hazelnut Trivia

  • The National Hazelnut Cake Day is celebrated every June 1st.
  • Hazelnut has been the official state nut of Oregon since 1989.
  • Before, crushed hazelnuts were used as a remedy to cure baldness.
  • Ancient Romans believed that hazelnut guarantees a long, happy, and prospective marriage. Thus, the branches of hazelnut trees are being used as torches to light up their wedding ceremonies.
  • A 13-oz jar of Nutiva Organic Chocolate Hazelnut spread contains roughly 30 hazelnuts.

Hazelnut Buying Guide

Hazelnuts are widely available in most grocery stores and farmers markets, especially around the holidays in December. You can buy them in the shell or out of the shell raw, chopped, ground, blanched, or roasted.

If you’re buying hazelnuts in the shell, opt for the ones that are slightly heavy for their size. Old nuts start to dry in the shell, which in turn will make them lighter. Plus, choose the ones that have a tight, shiny shell with a dark reddish-brown color. Thus, avoid the ones that have holes or cracks. One way to check for their freshness is to shake them. If they rattle, it means that these nuts have lost their moisture and perhaps, not fresh anymore.

On the other hand, if you’re buying hazelnuts off the shell, be aware that their natural oils make them prone to rancidity. Thus, look for the ones that are in a sealed container to ensure freshness. If you’re buying in bulk, buy them from a trusted and reputable supplier with a high turnover rate to ensure quality and freshness. Either way, avoid any nuts that smell rancid, are faded or discolored, or have signs of mold or moisture. This is not common though, but it may occur if the nuts are kept in a humid environment and are rotten. Also, look for the ones with tight skin, full, and plump.

Meanwhile, you can also buy hazelnut oil in the market. As mentioned, this oil has a strong flavor, so you don’t need that much when cooking. Consider that factor when buying such as this particular oil can go rancid quickly. Plus, choose containers that are tightly sealed, preferably made with colored glass or tin, as light exposure can damage the product.

Hazelnut Production & Farming in Texas

Unfortunately, hazelnut trees have never been successfully grown in Texas. These trees are unable to survive the harsh winters and very hot summers of the state. Furthermore, a disease called Eastern Filbert Blight may occur in the more humid and hot portions of the state.

Pesticides:

Just like the other nuts, raw hazelnuts are mostly pure. They do not contain any chemicals that are harmful to our bodies. However, some packages contain some flavorings like rosemary extract and sodium to intensify the flavor and prolong their shelf life.

Geography:

Hazelnuts have more than 100 varieties but most of them are grown in Turkey. Turkey has been the largest producer of hazelnuts in the world, accounting for roughly 75% of the worldwide production. Besides Turkey, these nuts are also commercially produced in Azerbaijan, Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Georgia, Serbia, the region of Catalonia in Spain, the county of Kent in the UK, and in the states of Oregon and Washington in the U.S.A.

Packaging:

Hazelnuts can be purchased as in the shell or out of the shell. Out of the shell, you can buy them raw, chopped, ground, blanched, or roasted. They usually come in either resealable or non-resalable bags, plastic jars, mason jars, and foil-lined cans.

Eating Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are known for their distinctly mild and nutty flavor. They’re traditionally used as an ingredient in scrumptious desserts and beverages like coffee; but, hazelnuts added to savory dishes are also popular. You can sprinkle them on salads, crush them and roll some goat geese in, mix them with some breadcrumbs for frying or sautéing fish, mix them with froyos, top them to grilled pineapple slices, or add them to rice dishes like pilafs and risottos. They pair well with fruits, vegetables, seafood, meat, and chocolates.

Storage:

Just like other nuts, hazelnuts are also delicate and highly perishable, especially when they’re removed from their shells. Thus, shelled hazelnuts should be eaten as soon as possible. You may keep them at room temperature, but make sure that you store them away from heat and humidity. Better yet, keep them in the refrigerator or freezer, when they can last for from 6 to 12 months. On the other hand, unshelled hazelnuts must be stored in a cool and dry place, where they can last for up to a month. Regardless, they should be kept in an airtight container.

Cooking:

It’s possible to eat hazelnuts right out of the shell. However, quickly toasting or roasting the nut will bring out a richer and more intense flavor. To dry roast hazelnuts, simply spread them thinly on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven at 350ºF for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until they’re fragrant and slightly brown. The same process goes for blanched hazelnuts, except the oven temperature has to be set to 250ºF, where you would bake the nuts for 2 to 3 minutes. Either way, once they’re cooled down, place them in between dish clothes and rub them together to peel the skin away.

Nutrition:

Hazelnuts are made up of 61% fat, 17% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 5% water. Their fats are mainly monounsaturated and their carbohydrates are mostly made up of fiber. They’re also a good source of vitamin E. As a matter of fact, a 25-gram handful of hazelnuts can provide over 50% of the RDA for this vitamin. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant. Along with good amounts of thiamin, magnesium, copper, manganese, folate, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc, they can help reduce cholesterol levels, while stabilizing the blood sugar levels. They also reduce the risk of gastrointestinal complications like constipation and diverticulosis. And just like most nuts, they help build stronger bones, while fighting off the free radicals in our body, which can then help in reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.

When Are Hazelnuts in Season in Texas?

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  • January
  • Oktober
  • November
  • December

One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas.

Buy Local Farmfresh Hazelnuts in Texas Directly from the Producer

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Al’s Gourmet Nuts

mapMarkerGreyWinnsboro

Ball Orchard

mapMarkerGreyKaty

Chocolates Dalila

mapMarkerGreyLa Grange

Katysweet Confectioners