Have you ever tasted hazelnuts before? Trust me the buttery crunchy feel of the nuts in the mouth is just out of this world, it even drove me nuts to the extent that I had to cultivate and reap my very own nuts farm.
Fortunately, hazelnuts are easy to cultivate as it doesn’t involve too many rigors or complexities in understanding its growth pattern. Harvesting them on the other hand, requires little effort which you will find out as this read unfolds.
UNDERSTANDING THE GROWTH CYCLE
Hazelnuts are such easy nuts to cultivate and harvest which is why I opted to grow mine. When cultivated, they mature into buds during fall and later metamorphose to flowers by the end of winter.
They are categorized into male and female flowers where the male flower can be identified by its long yellow catkins, while the female flower is spotted as very small red threads which mostly grow at the end of twigs.
Apparently, since Hazelnuts exist in male and female flowers, they would require cross pollination in most cases to produce nuts. Therefore, while cultivating your hazelnut farm, it is important to factor in space as they are wind pollinated meaning they have to be properly spaced out (about 50ft) from each other.
When the pollination cycle is complete, the female flowers then mature into edible nuts which become noticeable as their color changes from green to brown.
WHEN TO HARVEST
Just like a variety of other nuts, hazelnuts take some time before they can be harvested. From the time of cultivation to harvest can take three to five years, while some other species like Pecan, can take as much as six to ten years to harvest.
However, your first harvest may not be as bountiful as expected, it will take a couple of harvest seasons after which the hazelnut tree is fully matured
HOW TO HARVEST
As earlier mentioned, harvesting hazelnuts takes minimal efforts. When the nuts mature I.e. when they turn from green to brown, it drops from the tree on its own, all you have to do is pick them from below the tree.
You can place a bucket or tray under the tree to collect the nuts when they fall to the ground.
FORAGING FOR WILD NUTS
For those who probably don’t have the time or space to grow their hazelnut farm, the forest is surely another avenue you can utilize to forage for wild hazelnut shrubs.
Since you are collecting from wild hazelnut shrubs, it is important to harvest the nuts when they are in the process of turning brown as the wild animals or birds may beat you to it if you leave them to fully ripen before collecting.
In this case you do the harvesting by pulling the nuts off the shrubs.
You can preserve the nuts by simply drying, spreading the nuts on large trays away from sunlight which will enable storage for a long period.
To ensure they are properly dried, you must keep turning them every few days until it is completely dried. This process should take two to four weeks. Another alternative to spreading them out to dry is by using a dehydrator set to 90-105°F.
The nuts can be preserved by storing them in shells at room temperature which should last for months. Once shelled, they should be consumed within a few weeks or placed in the refrigerator which can extend its shelf life to a year.
RECIPES AND COOKING IDEAS
Hazelnuts can be added to a variety of dishes as it is delicious, buttery crunch is one that adds flavor to most dishes.
It can be added to soups, salads, and pasta dishes, they may also be baked into cakes, candies, and cookies.
They can be roasted over an open fire or in the oven, and then added to snacks.
It can be added to spice up the taste of salads.
YOU WON’T WANT TO LEAVE THE KITCHEN
I don’t think there is anything satisfying than harvesting your own hazelnuts, be it your cultivated farm or collecting from the forest.
Hazelnuts are not just delicious and tasty, the aroma is one that would keep you coming back to the kitchen to treat yourself to more delicacies. Also, the fact that it is easy to grow and harvest makes it more endearing to want to cultivate your personal farm.
If you fall into the category of persons who have harvested their own nuts, share your stories with us!