Hazelnuts are the fruits of the Hazel tree and are found in the more temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere. They’re quite popular in the UK and in other parts of the world as flavorants for desserts and chocolates.
A question many younger kids may have when foraging or hiking through nature is… are these nuts edible?
Yes, all hazelnuts are edible provided you’re not allergic to nuts. They’re found in much of Europe, parts of North Africa, and western Asia as well as parts of the Eastern USA and Canada. Hazelnuts typically ripen between September and October.
Commonly Consumed Species
The Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) is native to western Europe and Asia and is the species most often used/grown for its nuts.
Two other species that are commonly used are Corylus Americana (American Hazelnut) which is found in the Eastern United States and Corylus Cornuta which is found in Canada.
They’re typically found in woodland areas with loamy soil among trees where they can get plenty of sunlight. They grow to between 10 – 15 feet and form small trees or shrubs.
The leaves are oval shaped with a slightly serrated edge. The nut usually forms in a shell, but the nuts of the Corylus Americana are formed in a leaf-like sheath.
Safe to Eat?
The fruit or nut is the only part of the hazel that’s safe to eat – provided, of course, that you’re not allergic to nutsand are commonly found in Ferrero Rocher and Nutella among other chocolaty treats. Hazelnuts can be eaten raw straight from the tree once the nut is out of the shell or roasted depending on your preference. Not only are hazelnuts edible, they’re also very healthy.
Hazelnuts are full of fat, protein, fiber, carbohydrates, iron, vitamin E, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium, and thiamine. Additionally, there are also significant quantities of potassium, vitamin K, zinc, and calcium.
Here are a Few Recipes for You
We can’t answer a question like this one without sharing a few good recipes.
Hazelnut butter is a sweet, creamy alternative to the regular store-bought stuff and tastes great on toast. Depending on where you are, it may be a tad expensive, but it’s oh so worth it! You can get a good recipe here.
Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream Cheesecake
I love cheesecake and ice cream, so when you combine the two…well, I’m hooked! The sweetness of the hazelnut makes this a very sweet treat to have at teatime. You can get a good recipe here.
Chocolate brownies, anyone? I don’t think I’ve met anyone who doesn’t like chocolate brownies or Ferrero Rocher chocolates. So, when you’ve put the two together you’ve got a super sweet treat that’ll be enjoyed by the whole family. You can use this recipe to make these yourself.
Hazelnut Latte Cake
If you like coffee-flavored cake, then you’re going to love this! It’s a chocolate, coffee cake with a touch of hazelnut for that extra sweetness. If you’d like to make this yourself, try this recipe.
Chocolate, Hazelnut, Caramel Tart
A pastry case with a creamy texture, filled with caramel and fudge and topped with hazelnuts. If that sounds good to you, then grab this recipe for yourself and chow down!
It’s Easy to See why Hazelnuts are so Popular
It’s not hard to see why hazelnuts are so popular, they’re fairly easy to recognize which makes them safe for newbie foragers. Their smooth texture and sweet flavor make them fantastic for culinary use, but, as always, one should always use caution.
If you have an allergy to nuts (not the human type), then obviously eating a hazelnut or something with hazelnuts in it would be a very bad idea.
I really hope you guys enjoyed the article and found it informative. As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the next one. Take care, and happy foraging!
Greg is a South African farmer and homesteader who’s been around animals ever since he can remember. He’s also an avid camper and hiker.