Wild about Cracking Nuts

This is the time of year to check corylus trees for nuts. I have a red one in the garden, and the squirrels have been taking the ones from the top and kindly burying them in the middle of the lawn amongst other places.

The BBC’s Gardening site says this about the one I have:-

The filbert species, C. maxima. Is an attractive and useful green-leafed shrub or small tree for hedges, with good crops of nuts. The variety usually grown in gardens is this purple form, with opulent deep purple foliage that rivals any other shrub of this shade. The male catkins, suspended from the bare branches before the new spring foliage develops, are reddish-purple with yellow highlights, and an attractive feature in themselves. Unusually for an ornamental variety, the edible nuts (filberts) are produced in good quantities. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

On a walk earlier this week, I checked to see whether last year’s trees had any nuts left and picked two pounds of these ones, some were very ripe and falling out of their husks, others not so ripe. I think they are different varieties of corylus as they vary in size and shape. I am not sure how to distinguish cobnuts or filberts from hazelnuts, I need a botanist! Emily Dev and MariaPaola have both found Turkish Hazelnuts like these near where they live.

These ones had shorter frilier husks than the ones below.

This one has long husks that cover the nut completely so I think it is a filbert type.

I cracked them all yesterday, and ended up with 270 grams of milky white kernels which I have dried lightly in the oven and now have to decide what to do with them. It might be time to make my favourite Dan Lepard grain and cobnut loaf again!

A post for all my Twitter friends!

25 thoughts on “Wild about Cracking Nuts

  1. Suelle

    You think bread – I think cake! :)

    Hugh F-W has a chocolate and hazelnut cake in this weekend’s Guardian magazine which needs 400g shelled dried hazelnuts, which he suggests we forage for!

    My tiny twisted hazelnut has empty shells this year, but my neighbour’s tree has a lot of nuts to harvest. Your red tree looks gorgeous!

    1. Joanna Post author

      That is a lot to collect for the average city dweller isn’t it Suelle ? ;) I haven’t looked at the paper yet, frantically baking bread this am. I have my Aunt’s Swedish nutcake recipe made with grated hazelnuts with skins on to fall back on. I reckon a pound of fresh nuts gives you maybe 100 g dried if you are lucky. The countryside will be stripped bare then this weekend by marauding hordes of Guardian readers. Poor Squirrel Nutkin….

  2. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Joanna are cobnuts hazelnuts? I get confused with all the different nuts… Either way, I don’t think I’ve seen anything that even vaguely resembles these little fellas growing about.

    1. Joanna Post author


      Wiki says there are 14 – 18 different sorts within the corylus family and that it is a Northern hemisphere tree or shrub primarily. The Kentish cobnut is the one traditionally eaten when still quite young, white and milky. these aren’t like cobnuts I have bought to look at, the cobnut is bigger and more rectangular in it’s proportions. I would like to know the names of these ones I found though.

      hope that helps, I’m not a tree expert, though would like to know more x

      1. bagnidilucca

        Piedmonte is the major hazelnut growing area in Italy. I have seen the trees from a distance, but never up close. By the time we see them ready to buy they look quite different.

  3. Anne

    I picked a few hazelnuts last week before the squirrels, just enough to make a great parsley and hazelnut pesto as well as a hazelnut filling for an apple tart. Now that you mention hazelnut bread, I have an excuse to go for a walk tomorrow !!!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I love different nuts in pesto, parsley and hazelnut sounds like a wonderful combination and I would love to try your tart too :D

      Do you have the Handmade Loaf if not, pop over to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial’s blog as she has made this bread and written about it in detail.

  4. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    I love that cobnut loaf of Dan’s, which I make with roasted hazelnuts, and thank you for the inspiration to make it in the first place. Nice to see cottage loaves again, I must revisit those! Haven’t made them since we ran the bake-off (in March 10, can you believe it’s been that long ago?).

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Celia, I haven’t made cottage loaves for a long time. The pic I added at the end of the post is just an illustration of the dough being used in different ways and is from a while ago now. It’s good to be able to refer back to old bread photos, it reminds me vividly of what I liked and didn’t like about a recipe.

      I was thinking of juicing some of my apples and soaking some cooked grain in the juice, if I get round to it and making some of the grain and nut bread in a week or so.

      Today I have baked sourdough brioche, the semolina bbq buns as well as regular sourdough loaves. Brian asked for softer breads so I chose those.

  5. teawithhazel

    i had been meaning to look up ‘cobnut’ after a previous post where you referred to them because i had never heard of the term before..after a bit of an online read what i’m gathering is that the term can be used synonymously with ‘hazelnut’..or would you say the name ‘cobnut’ is used to distinguish a particular nut in the corylus genus? i was enchanted with their pretty form when i saw hazelnuts growing for the first time in the north of greece where i was living..and according to a friend who had one growing in her garden there the hazelnut leaf can be used like a grapevine leaf to make dolmades..unfortunately i didn’t ever see her making them or try one..

    1. Joanna Post author

      I use the term cobnut to describe the fresh nuts before they have been dried for storage either in their shells or shelled. I think that is how most english people think of them. They don’t have a strong taste when they are in their green shells still, but they are juicy if that makes sense? I think there are different native hazelnuts in North America. I’ve never head of anyone using the leaves for cooking, sounds interesting !

      Here are some references that you might find interesting



        1. Joanna Post author

          I think these local terms are really confusing and I forget that people read blogs from all over the world, and I don’t always know what is just an ‘englishism’. The worst one of all time is the corn flour vs cornflour thing. Cornflour all one word is cornstarch in British English (white and fine and used for thickening sauces etc). We don’t really use the term corn flour, we would say maize meal, or cornmeal, or polenta I guess. And as for that semolina flour…. wipes brow…. xx

          1. Anne

            Hi, cobnuts and filberts are both hazelnuts but of different varieties: the first have short husks and the latter, long husks that cover the nuts completely. I too am confused with all the different terms for flour trying to translate from american, to english to french…: chickpea flour or gram flour, polenta or fine maize flour… polenta needs to be cooked first before being added to bread dough. Cornmeal ? semolina ? “oh la la” !

  6. emilysincerely

    Joanna! You are nuts! (a compliment, really!) I mean you are nutty! (another compliment!)… I mean this is great! Another neat thing to learn more about. Pecans are the “nut” of choice in Texas (to grow and eat). Apparently a Chinese Chestnut will do well here too (but I have never heard of that until I just did a search for nuts in Texas – I am a nut in Texas, just so you know). If you have a grafted Chinese Chestnut tree you can expect some nut harvest in 3-5 years. I love your photos and great information. What fun to learn new things. Emily

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thank you, yes I am quite nutty :D Pecans are an exotic nut in this country, though more widely available than they used to be. I remember a delightful nut brittle treat called Poppycock which I first had years ago in Canada and shamefully consumed the entire tin while my friends went out one day – that was full of pecans. You can get Poppycock here now and it is not so thrilling, in the way of all desired foodie things, once you can buy them in your local store, and my teeth can’t take the strain of all that toffee any more either, but I did love it ! I like pecan pie too !

  7. emilydev9

    Alright, enough already, I need to get my hands on a proper nutcracker that will deal with my Turkish hazelnuts, or keep them as decoration and get some more manageable hazelnuts of whatever variety. I made a Hamelman loaf with hazelnut and figs (or prunes? I forget), but I haven’t tried Dan’s yet.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Yes, go and get a nutcracker – quite right :D I wonder if your Turkish nuts are the ones that are grown commercially in Turkey, which is acc Hugh FW the source of most hazelnuts eaten in Europe?

      I have made both those Hamelman breads – Dan Lepard’s bread is better, it has those wonderful soaked whole grains in which I just love :D

  8. Ruth

    I think these would be perfect in a gutsy sourdough – the ones near the crust would get beautifully browned and flavoursome. Yum. Can I come and collect some nuts from your garden? ;-) Only wishful thinking – I live way too far away.

    I might have to bake a hazelnut loaf soon though – since you’ve planted a little seed with your ideas….

    1. Joanna Post author

      If you toast the nuts first then they get that wonderful flavour too! The last remaining red ones have been stolen by the squirrel, I can’t see any on the tree any more. I do hope you bake a loaf, they are also good with prunes in the bread or with figs, though I still like the Dan Lepard one best, it’s a bit like a granary type bread, open textured and golden with grain and nuts.

  9. heidi

    I love all the nuts! Although the Brazil nut is just a little too filled with oil and has a consistency that I find almost unpleasant. Here we also have beech nuts which sound a little like your English cobnuts. Not much flavor- very tender- and definitely foragable- if you get there before the squirrels.
    Lovely pictures.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Beech nut husks are everywhere on the ground right now, crunch crunch – I remember trying to eat them as a kid, the ones we get here are very tiny and hardly worth the effort. I remember being told to ‘leave them for the squirrels!’

      Glad you liked the pictures Heidi :D

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