Why eat hazelnuts?

November 1, 2019 10:05 am Published by Leave your thoughts

2019 has been a really good year for British hazelnuts! Also known as cobnuts and filberts (see the end of this blog for an explanation of the difference between them), you might have spotted them in thick clusters on trees in gardens and overgrown hedgerows, or fallen to the ground. Conditions this year have worked in their favour, with hot periods interspersed with colder times.

Hazelnuts: rich in unsaturated fat and vitamins - and very tasty!

 

Hazelnuts are lovely to eat just as they are – and the ones you’ll find growing wild are about as good as they get. They’ll have a slightly floral, as well as a nutty taste. Fresh and young, they can often be shaved and added to salads – once they’re a little older, you’ll need to dry, shell and then chop them (but they’re just as great). They’ve got a real affinity with cheese, and of course, chocolate, and are frequently added to bread, muffins, cookies and other baking. They’re wonderful chopped up in a topping for a crumble, or made into the famous raspberry hazelnut meringue dish, a dacquoise. We also like the sound of these baked ricotta and hazelnut cheesecakes and, on the savoury side, this hazelnut and cauliflower nut loaf with mushroom sauce. If you’re cooking with hazelnuts, remember that toasting brings out their flavour, rendering them pretty irresistible….

When you’ve had enough of whole hazelnuts, you might like to experiment with blitzing them in a food-processor to make your own hazelnut butter (just add chocolate for a homemade version of a well-known breakfast spread), or grinding them up to make flour – a lovely nutty alternative, suitable for gluten-free baking and thickening.

You can even make nut milk from them. Creamy and rich, it’s a good, tasty dairy milk alternative. It’s very easy to make: simply soak hazelnuts overnight in cold water (for every ¾ cup of hazelnuts , use 3 ½ cups cold water). Blend the resulting mixture, add a dash of vanilla extract, sieve to remove the bits, and blitz again until smooth.

You probably won’t manage to make your own hazelnut oil, but we sell it here – a wonderful option for drizzling on salads or adding that elusive sweet-with-a-suggestion-of-chocolate flavour to dishes.

But why bother? What’s so good about hazelnuts?

Hazelnuts: what’s so good about them?

One of the best thing about hazelnuts is that they’re so rich in unsaturated fats, mostly oleic acid, an Omega-9 fatty acid that reduces blood pressure and protects cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Around 79% of the fat in hazelnuts is monounsaturated.

Like many nuts, hazelnuts are also a great source of plant-based protein, providing around 15g per 100g.

In addition, you’ll find magnesium, calcium and vitamins B and E in hazelnuts. Magnesium and calcium work together to build strong bones, while the B complex vitamins are essential for a healthy nervous system. Vitamin E, like oleic acid, protects cells and cell membranes against oxidative damage.

Hazelnuts? Cobnuts? Or filberts?

Some call them hazelnuts – others say cobnuts or filberts. Here’s a helpful note from the Campaign for Real Farming on the subject:

“Cobnuts are hazelnuts that are cultivated for consumption, sold fresh rather than dried; the nuts are usually larger – longer, more ovoid, than wild hazelnuts.  Filberts are a subsection of Cobnuts, to be classed as a Filbert the husk must completely enclose the nut.  The confusion is not helped by the fact that the most popular variety to be cultivated, Lambert’s Filbert, is commonly known as a Kentish Cobnut.”

The same website makes it clear just why hazelnuts do so well in Britain.

“Hazels are the nut most suited to the British climate as, unlike sweet chestnuts or walnuts, they will set a crop even in the worst summers.  The catkins, which appear in spring, are the male flowers and wind is sufficient to pollinate the inconspicuous red female flowers on the same branch.  Although the ideal soil for hazels is said to be a deep, damp, limestone, they survive in a wide variety of situations and are present in woodland and hedgerow all of the British Isles, forming multi-stemmed thickets.”

They make great back-garden trees – and your harvest should allow you to enjoy a variety of nutritious hazelnut dishes every year!

But if you’re not growing your own, you’ll need a good supplier – and that’s where we come in! You can see all our hazelnuts – whole and ground, organic and natural, roast, blanched or just as they come, in small packs and in bulk – here. We’ve also got a range of hazelnut butters, hazelnut oil, hazelnut milks and other products containing these amazing little nuts on our website here.

Naturally Good Reads v2

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This post was written by Yzanne

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