Hazelnuts are often found in hedgerows and deciduous woodland in late summer and early autumn, usually in September, and they are sometimes referred to as ‘cobnuts’ or ‘filberts’. They have been found in the UK since ancient times. Full of protein and vitamins, hazelnuts have been an important source of food for our ancestors and wildlife alike.
How to find Wild Hazelnuts
Hazel is a tree that is often seen in coppiced woodland or used as a hedgerow plant. The leaves are smaller than most other deciduous trees, but broad, and are rounded in shape with
The hazelnuts grow inside a green, fuzzy husks that are found underneath the leaves of the plant.
Hazelnuts are ready to eat when the leaves of the tree are turning yellow and you begin to find hazelnuts on the floor. A good shake of the tree should loosen more for you to gather.
The hazelnuts that you find growing wild on the tree are green in colour, it is only when they have dried and ripened off of the plant that they turn into the brown shelled nuts we are familiar with.
Wild hazelnuts are usually smaller than the ones you buy in shops, and some of them will not have a kernel inside.
Eating and Storing Wild Hazelnuts
Fresh, green hazelnuts can be eaten straight from the tree. When fresh, they have a sweet, pea like flavour.
You can roast hazelnuts to dry some of the moisture and add an extra nutty flavour. Put the hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast in a hot oven for about ten minutes.
There are many culinary uses for tasty hazelnuts. They are great when baked in biscuits, and are a delicious addition to savoury foods, such as warm salads, in stuffing, or a dressing for meats and cheeses.
Hazelnuts should be stored in a cool, dry place. They are fine to leave in their shells, and will keep for many months when dried out properly. Alternatively, they can be shelled and stored in an air tight container.
Hazelnuts are a tasty treat for autumn foragers, and if you are lucky you might just find them growing in a squirrel free area! Lots of other wildlife depends on hazelnuts to give them energy for the winter, so make sure you do not gather all of the nuts you find.