Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Turkish Hazelnuts

A few years ago I took up a 6 month stint working a day a week with my local Wildlife Trust through a work scheme. The guy who led the work party each week was very knowledgable and I credit him for a lot of base information about flora and fauna which has helped to get me to where I am today. One tree I learnt a lot about was the hazel with it's multi stems, floppy leaf and it's nuts.

Turkish hazel nuts (Corylus colurna) are a sort of urban version and whilst they have the floppy leaf the tree is your 'standard' main trunk with branches and the nuts are clustered and straggly looking but in massive bunches. A quick search shows that only the female tree bears fruit and not every year (had that disappointment with a bolt on beech tree in the past) and it also gave me the Latin name which I didn't know off the top of my head. This particular tree is one of several a couple of minutes from my door and it's one of those things that folk overlook...

Overlook indeed! A few weeks ago the ground was fairly littered with the overlooked nuts. This is what the clusters look like in the tree...


...And in my grubby mitt, you can just see a shell poking through the top thanks to some subtle persuasion from me for the shot. The shells look broadly similar to their indigenous relatives  but I'd suggest that they are a smidge larger and have a pleasing pattern on the base.

You can however, see just how thick the shells are on these morsels, this particular nut was one of the few that I got out intact and my online reading suggested that they aren't commercially viable for the this very reason because the nut itself is flavourful. In Ray Mears' Wild Food series which he made with Professor Gordon Hillman they roasted nuts in a depression, sealed them with sand and roasted using embers. I hope to try it during this work sabbatical if the trees give up any that year.

I went over to the trees today and there are still quite a few nuts left. does this mean that even the king of nutcrackers, the squirrels, can't handle them? As stated before they are er...tough nuts to crack (pun intended).

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