Today I got overly excited about beaked hazelnuts and tried to pry a freshly picked one open with my fingers... if you have ever handled beaked hazelnuts you'll know how dumb a move that was. After a few minutes rinsing my fingers and pulling tiny slivers out from under my nails, I thought, wasn't there someone on Permies who was talking about processing beaked hazelnuts? I tried searching the forums and didn't find anything specifically about processing the nuts. I remember someone saying you had to pick them early, not sure why (maybe so the squirrels don't get them first?), and I've seen somewhere else that you have to dry them, and I've seen on youtube someone using a leather glove and pliers and an axe to shell them, but I'd like some definitive step-by-step instructions, "processing beaked hazelnuts for dummies" level information. I'd like to hear from people who have done this themselves, in large quantities, as we have a lot of wild beaked hazelnut that we plan to take advantage of in the future, and I'm completely green. Thank you in advance for any help!
I may have water soak rotted mine for a time then rubbed the skins off. Then there was a sink float in water to determine which to keep and which to toss. Toss the floaters. I ended up with all good tiny nuts. Which I find weirdly Leatherman's Skeletool pliers work awesome for controlled cracking open. Likely any appropriately sized pliers would work.
I've also looked at planting a larger nut that will grow in my Zone 3 area: Hazelberts. You can find them at: HardyFruitTrees.ca. I've planted 10 this year and they are doing well so far. We'll see how they do over the winter.
As a kid on holiday in Wales I noticed the fields were bordered with compact hazelnut hedges so dense the sheep couldn't get thru them. Anyway I still remember the sensation of cracking the nuts with my teeth.
I hope you dove right in and tried a harvest them.
This was my experience:
I harvested a couple of buckets of them in the month of August with gloves on. The squirrel population here was very light this year so the beaked hazelnuts were abundant.
I immediately husked them. Just find how works best for you. I had a knife handy that I needed occasionally but most of them popped out after I broke the hull with my gloved fingertips. (is the correct term hull or husk?)
I rinsed them off with water to get all the fine cactus like hairs off and cleaned out any debris all the while looking for the ones with holes to discard.
I dried them on a screen a few days.
After that I've been munching on them, cracking open one at a time.
They are timely to process but for the energy and nutrition I am pretty sure its worth it.
If I manage to properly store them I'll let you know what I did.
As a side note, I tasted the green hulls. They have a strong citrus flavor. I'm trying to find out if the hold any toxins and need a proper type of processing or not. It seems to me they would be lovely flavorings in jams, teas or maybe even pressed for juice. If anyone knows if they are safe or not please let me know~ or how would I have something like that tested for toxic substances?
The method (I know) is an old folk one, and can take days, if you're very careful. It begins with touching the part in question to a sensitive spot in your skin - like the inside of your wrist, then your lip, then the tip of your tongue, then, in your mouth, then actually swallowing a tiny amount. Between each testing, you wait at least a few hours & up to a day, to see if you have any reaction to it, like tingling, burning, rash, nausea, swelling, etc.
But, if you can find out from someone with experience, or a solid resource, that's better, imho - and likely a LOT faster!
The only thing...more expensive than education is ignorance.~Ben Franklin