Who doesn’t want to grow nuts! So last year I bought two Webb’s Prize Cobnut plants. Cobnuts are a cultivated variety of hazelnut. The trees (or shrubs to be precise) have grown a lot this year and one of them showed the beginnings of a few nuts early this season. Cobnuts are a bit larger and more oval shaped than their wild hazelnut cousins.
After seeing nuts forming on my own plants I suddenly saw wild ones growing not far from my home. Funnily enough I have walked past them many times on my morning walks with the dogs, never realising what kind of plant it was. So as soon as the nuts turned a bit yellowy-brown, I went back to pick a few before the squirrels got them…
I left them to dry in a fruit bowl on the dining table for a week, but because I have never picked fresh hazelnuts before, I was at a loss as what to do with them. I needn’t have worried though, the River Cottage handbooks had the answer ….as per usual! At first I thought about making florentines with chestnut flour, hazelnuts and rose hips but not having found a chestnut tree (yet) or chestnut flour in the supermarket, I decided to change tack and go for honeyed hazelnuts instead, which is a great way to preserve those precious, delicious autumn fruit.
Early September is the perfect time to go out and forage for hazelnuts in the hedgerows (remember hazels grow on shrubs not trees). I am lucky, in a few years I will have loads of cobnuts because as well as the two plants I already had, Bridget brought another three saplings a few weeks ago when she came to visit, plus a little sweet chestnut!! A veritable nuttery in the making.
So put the kettle on, play your favourite music and free your schedule for the next few hours because cracking the shells of all those hazelnuts takes some time…
Honeyed Hazels (recipe)
Makes 2 x 225g jars
What you need:
500g hazelnuts or cobnuts (or both mixed together)
340g clear honey
Crack all the nuts and remove the kernels. Heat a frying pan over a low heat. Toast the shelled nuts in batches for 4-5 minutes, move them around the pan to make sure they do not burn. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Pack the nuts in sterilised jars, adding 1 tbsp honey at every third or fourth layer. Continue until the jars are completely full, making sure the nuts are well covered in honey. Seal with lid and store in a cool dark place. Use within 12 months.
Our jars probably won’t last that long. In fact that same evening we had vanilla ice cream with honeyed cobnuts, blueberries and the odd raspberry and blackberry (from our own garden of course), utterly scrumptious!!!