Beaked Hazelnuts (corylus cornuta) also cultivated and sold by the name Filberts, are found throughout much of North America, and they are one of just a couple native nuts available in Western Washington. Assuming you can beat the squirrels and jays to the harvest, or if you cultivate hazelnuts in your yard and protect them with covers, the following are some simple things you can make with your hazelnuts.
Harvesting, Drying, Storing & Roasting Hazelnuts
There are a couple important things to know about hazelnuts. For one, some people like to eat the green hazelnuts right off the tree. If you aren’t allergic to hazelnuts, you might want to try it. As with eating any nuts or fruits “straight off the vine” your stomach will tell you how much you can tolerate. My husband, Chris, prefers green hazelnuts over ripened, stored hazelnuts, and you might, too!
To store hazelnuts for use around the calendar year, follow the directions found at the Oregon State University website where focused research is constantly done on hazelnuts due to their commercial importance in the Willamette Valley. In fact, much of their hazel production was wiped out by the Eastern Filbert Blight and so they developed a blight-resistant hybrid that has replaced many orchards including our neighborhood Filbert Acres:
The beaked hazel has a unique reproductive cycle, producing catkins in January which pollinate minuscule flowers that look like a red dot on the branches. It won’t be until summer when that flower develops into the nut.
Tasty & Simple Hazelnut Milk, also called Mylk: (or use another seed/nut of your choice)
- 1 c soaked hazelnuts or other nut/seed of your choice
- 3-4 c filtered water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-2 tsp sweetener of your choice (maple syrup, honey, a few dates, etc.) – optional
- Pour nuts into a bowl. Cover with water (about an inch over the nuts) and soak overnight. I usually soak them in the refrigerator (especially wise if you have a kitty).
- Prior to use, strain off and discard the soak water. You can use a colander, cheesecloth, jelly strainer bag, etc.
- Place the nuts and filtered water (3c makes it more creamy, 4c is more dilute), vanilla and sweetener in a blender and blend for 30 seconds (longer if necessary).
- Strain and enjoy, or better yet:
- Add your favorite spices to the nut milk such as cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg, or superfood and protein powders. Many people use agave as a sweetener but it’s not one that I choose to use due to questionable benefits and claims.
- You can store the sweetened milk for about 2-3 days and unsweetened for about 4-5 days in the refrigerator before it starts to ferment.
Here’s a close-up photo by the author of beaked hazel catkin with tiny red flower!
What to do with the leftover nut pulp? Have I got a sweet suggestion for you:
Raw Nut Dessert Truffles!
- 1 c hazelnut milk pulp (or nut pulp of choice)
- 1/2 c raw sesame tahini
- 1/4 c cocoa powder (can use carob instead)
- 1/4 c maple syrup or raw honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of sea salt
- extra cocoa or carob powder or unsweetened coconut to roll your truffle in after you mix them up
- Put the ingredients in a bowl and mix together. You can add a touch of water if it’s too dry to blend, but not too much because you want your mixture to hold it’s shape. You can also add a few tablespoons of coconut butter to the mix if you’re so inclined.
- Drop small (or large!) scoops into the cocoa powder or coconut and place on a serving dish or straight into your mouth.
If truffles aren’t up your alley, you can dry the pulp and use it in baked goods. You can freeze it for later use, compost it, throw it to your chickens or make a face scrub out of it. The possibilities are limitless.
Learn how to confidently identify plants using their unique family patterns in this in-depth video by author of Botany in a Day, Thomas Elpel!
*** For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. We recommend that you consult with a qualified health care practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing or on any medications. ***
*** Please read our Honorable Harvesting Guidelines before harvesting any plant material. The final guideline is of utmost importance: “Never put anything in your mouth unless you are 100% sure it is safe to ingest.” ***
Kim McKillip Chisholm is co-owner of Wolf Camp and the Wolf College. She has a B.S. in Wildlife Science from the University of Washington College of Forest Resources in Seattle and has been a volunteer dog-handler with King County Search Dogs since 2000. Her passions include sharing her love of nature with others, wild edibles and herbal medicine, wilderness preparedness, bird identification and behavior and, of course, chickens! For training with Kim on wild food topics, check out:
• Wilderness Survival Seminar
• Wild Foods Foraging & Herbal Medicine-Making
Summer Camps & Expeditions in Western Washington:
• Wilderness Survival Training and Trek
• Wild Cooking, Ethnobotany & Herbal Medicine