Hazelnuts are native to Asia, but most of the species we know today originated from Europe in the 19th century.
The oldest archaeological evidence of using hazelnuts as a common food source dates back as far as 9,000 years – the Mesolithic period, and the largest archaeological Mesolithic is located in the area of Scotland.
Culinary: the cream-coloured kernels have a sweet flavour and are surrounded by a thick, bitter-tasting dark brown shell, which is best removed before eating.
The shell can be removed by spreading the hazelnuts across a baking pan and placing the pan in a medium-heated oven for about 15 minutes. When the shell starts to crack and the kernel attains a golden colour, the hazelnuts are ready. Then place the hazelnuts on a towel and rub them together to remove the shell.
Hazelnuts are a perfect combination with chocolate, so we recommend them as an ingredient in chocolate hazelnut spreads or home-made chocolate bars.
You can add chopped hazelnuts to biscuit dough, as well as pastry dough and desserts; whereas roasted hazelnuts can be ground with sugar into a paste and used in creams for desserts and pralines. Roasted hazelnuts can also be processed into a flour, which can be used for baking cakes or as a powder topping, filling, etc.
Hazelnuts can also be used as a crunchy surprise in savory dishes, such as breads, salads, vegetable side dishes, risottos and pastas, fish and poultry.
Hazelnuts can also be used to make oil and used to achieve a sweet and nutty flavour to the dish.
Turkey is the largest producer of hazelnuts (more than 60% of the world’s hazelnut production), followed by Italy and Georgia.
The hazelnut is the fruit of the hazel – a bushy tree attaining a height of eight metres. The harvesting of hazelnuts takes place in mid-Autumn.
Native Americans used the leaves and flowers of the hazel trees in traditional medicine.
Like most nuts, hazelnuts are also perfect for making a non-diary drink, which can be used as a substitute for cow’s milk.