Monday, November 05, 2012

Not your Nutella's hazelnuts

In addition to birds and butterflies, Son1 had gotten really into trees lately. He is rarely seen without his The Sibley Guide to Trees book, regaling (*ahem*) anyone who'll be willing to listen to any piece of minutiae on some obscure tree, not all of which are that interesting to me.

However, there is one particular tree that is apparently all over our property that is pretty darned neat. It's the American Hazel. Son1 spent half a day this fall harvesting the nuts from this variety. Here's what the "nut" and a leaf looks like:
When you peel off the outer husk, you get something that looks like a miniature version of the European hazelnuts (Common or Giant Hazels...all in the genus Corylus) with which you're probably more familiar. 

Here's Son1 peeling the husks:
And here are a couple of the hazelnuts (note the variation in size):
The shell of the nut is as hard as an walnut or pecan shell. Since I couldn't find the (very expensive) nut cracker we bought from some years ago (figures), I had to improvise with a paper bag and a jewelry-making hammer. Yeah, I'm a regular Macgyver.

However, it was a poop-load of work for a small handful of meat. If it weren't for the fact that it's free, I'd never bother again. I think I'll roast the meat and mix it with melted chocolate to make a homemade Nutella. A minuscule amount of homemade Nutella. Maybe enough for a doll's breakfast. :P

Do you have American hazelnut or any other hazelnut trees on your property? Have you harvested and eaten any?

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams