Hazelnut Cooking Tips
• Hazelnut oil should be used sparingly. A little goes a long way. Avoid heat when using hazelnut oil so as not to sacrifice its delicate flavor. When using to flavor sauces, remove from heat and whisk in at the last possible moment.
• Ground hazelnuts are popular in breads, pastries, and confections. They marry particularly well with chocolate and coffee.
• For full flavor, roast and cool raw shelled hazelnuts before grinding or chopping.
• To remove the paper skin, spread shelled hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking tray and roast at 275 F (130 C), stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes until the skins begin to break. Roll in a clean tea towel, let rest for 10 minutes, and then gently rub back and forth to remove skins. Some bits of the skin may remain. Bring the nuts to room temperature before using.
• Cultivated hazelnuts are said to have a weaker flavor than wild ones.
Substitutions and Measures
• 2-1/4 pound hazelnuts in the shell = 1 pound shelled nutmeats.
• 1 pound hazelnuts in the shell = 1-1/2 cups nutmeats.
• 1 pound shelled hazelnuts = 3-1/2 cups.
• 1 cup shelled = 5 ounces.
• 4 ounces ground, lightly packed = 3/4 cup.
• 1 ounce ground, lightly packed = about 3-1/2 Tablespoons.
• Macadamia nuts may be substituted for hazelnuts or filberts if need be.
Selection and Storage
Check the nuts by picking one up and shaking it. If it rattles inside the shell, this is an indication it has lost moisture due to age or mishandling and is now stale. The shells should be free of cracks or holes. Most markets now carry shelled and ground hazelnuts, which can be quite a timesaver in the kitchen.
At room temperature, unshelled hazelnuts and filberts seldom last more than a month. Once shelled, they should be eaten as soon as possible. Shelled hazelnuts should last unopened up to 4 months in the refrigerator or 1 year in the freezer.
Hazelnut oil is more fragile. Store hazelnut oil in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
History of Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts, a member of the Corylus botanical family, have been cultivated in China for more than 5,000 years. The hazel part of its name comes from the Anglo-Saxon word haesel meaning a headdress or bonnet, referring to the shape of outer shell covering. Hazelnuts are reputed to be native to Asia Minor, from whence they spread to Italy, Spain, France, and Germany via Greece.
Prior to the 1940s, hazelnuts were imported to the States. Today they are grown commercially in the Northwestern part of the United States.
Hazelnuts are about the size of a small marble. The nutmeat is encased in a hard shell that resembles an acorn without its cap. The rich, sweet nutmeat has a bitter brown paper-thin skin that is usually removed before eating.
These nuts contain a wealth of oil, 88 percent unsaturated, which is pressed for use as the aromatic and delicately flavored hazelnut oil. Although it cannot be heated to high temperatures, this oil is favored by gourmets worldwide and is relatively expensive. Luckily, a little goes a long way.
The popular Nutella® spread is made with hazelnuts.
Why are hazelnuts called filberts?
The most commonly accepted explanation is because hazelnuts mature on or around St. Philibert’s Day, August 20. Other historians believe the term filbert derives from the German vollbart meaning full beard, a reference to the appearance of the husked shell. Although the current definition of filbert tends to refer to commercial cultivated crops of hazelnuts, the terms hazelnut and filbert are generally used interchangeably.
Hazelnuts are also known as cobnuts in some areas. Other experts claim these are all different varieties of the nut, but once shelled, they are quite difficult to tell apart.
Take these hazelnut cooking tips into your kitchen and enjoy this tasty nut in a variety of recipes as well as on their own.
Hazelnut Cooking Tips Photo ©2021 Peggy Filippone