You might think that this is a little early to be picking hazel nuts but;
- picked early in the season, when they’re still green, the shelled nuts make a tasty nibble to munch on while you’re out walking. If you collect enough, the shelled nuts can be roasted in the oven or used to make hazelnut butter.
- if you wait until they ripen, they’ll probably get taken by squirrels first!
Hazel is a common tree in woods and very common as a hedgerow tree here in the Scottish Borders. The nuts (also called cobnuts and filberts) can be picked from mid – August. You can pick them when they’re green and leave them to ripen in a warm, dry, dark place, like an airing cupboard. Ripe nuts are found on the tree in September and October, depending on the weather – and the squirrels!
Hazel Nut butter is really expensive to buy, but really easy to make. And if you have foraged the nuts, really inexpensive! The simplest method is to
- Roast nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet – 15 mins at 180C
- Once cooled, rub off the skins
- Blast in a food processor
- Scrape the nut pieces into the base of the processor, blast again and repeat until you have a smooth paste.
The butter can be stored in a jar, room temperature. It’s great as a spread on toast, pastries and ice cream!
There are lots of recipes – sweet and savoury – on the BBC Good Food website.
If you are going to forage for Hazel Nuts, please follow the simple guidelines:
- Always be sure you are sure of the plant before you pick it and never eat any plant you are unsure of.
- Leave plenty behind for wildlife.
- Make sure you have permission to pick
- Only pick where plants are plentiful
Why not try growing your own hazel tress to make foraging super easy. Here’s a great guide from TCV