This concise guide to hazelnuts has what you need to know about the sweet-tasting, hard, roundish nut, from buying and storage, easy uses, and links to recipes.
Are hazelnuts the same as filberts?
Sometime hazelnuts are referred to as filberts, though botanically, they aren’t the same. Hazelnuts come from the wild, shrublike hazel tree, which grows primarily in the northwestern United States (Oregon and Washington States are leading producers) and in Mediterranean Europe.
The filbert tree is a domesticated version of the wild hazel tree and is cultivated in groves. If you want to get into the weeds on the nomenclature confusion between hazelnuts and filberts, you can do so here.
Famous for Nutella
In the 1960s, the Italian company Ferrero introduced the cocoa-flavored hazelnut spread known as Nutella. The product has become rather famous in a multitude of countries. It’s made with varying ingredients in different locales, with hazelnuts, cocoa, and some sort of milk product as standards. In other words, Nutella is never vegan, but it’s easy to make your own plant-based copycat version.
DIY Nutella copycat recipes — vegan! For vegans and those who’ve gone dairy-free, it’s not hard to make your own Nutella-like copycat spread. Here are a duo of recipes to try:
Buying and storage
Shelled hazelnuts can be purchased in bulk in natural food and specialty stores; they should look full and plump, and their skins should have a rich red-brown color and glossy sheen.
Hazelnuts in the shell are usually more economical than when they are bought shelled; their shiny brown shell is easy to crack, and since these nuts aren’t generally used in large quantities, it isn’t a daunting prospect to shell 1/2 cup or so as needed.
You can also find hazelnuts both shelled and unshelled at sources like nuts.com online. Here, for example, is their array of hazelnut variants, including blanched, unbalanced, raw, salted, unsalted, chocolate-covered, and more.
The shells help keep the hazelnuts fresher longer, too. Hazelnuts in their shells keep at room temperature for several months; shelled hazelnuts should be refrigerated if they are to be kept for more than a couple of months.
Hazelnuts are 66 percent fat, ranking high in fat content among nuts. The largest portion of the fat is monounsaturated. They’re 11 percent protein. One ounce (about 20 nuts) of hazelnuts contains about 180 calories and 4.2 grams protein.
They provide relatively good amounts of several B vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and are rich in vitamin E and fiber. Here’s a more detailed look at the nutritional profile of hazelnuts.
How to roast hazelnuts — and/or remove the skins
Let’s say you’ve purchased raw hazelnuts. Simply bake hazelnuts that have been shelled at 350º F on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they begin to brown lightly and have a fantastically nutty aroma.
If you want to remove the skins, wrap the roasted hazelnuts in a clean tea towel and let them steam for a few minutes. Then, use the towel to rub the skins off.
How to use hazelnuts
- A favorite dessert nut: Because hazelnuts taste so rich, they are particularly valued as a dessert nut. They’re well known for their use in tortes and for their affinity with chocolate. Use hazelnuts as a substitute for chopped walnuts in or as a garnish for cakes and muffins for a nice change of pace.
- Veggie topping: Coarsely chopped hazelnuts can be used as a delicious topping for steamed broccoli, green beans, asparagus, and other green vegetables.
- Date stuffer: Stuff whole hazelnuts into pitted dates and eat as a snack.
- Mushroom stuffer: Finely ground hazelnuts are excellent for use as a stuffing for mushroom caps as a tasty appetizer.
- Pilafs and pastas: Toss 1/3 cup or so of finely chopped hazelnuts into grain pilafs and pasta dishes for extra flavor, protein, and crunch.
- In pesto: Use hazelnuts in place of walnuts or pine nuts to make pesto.
Make your own hazelnut butter
Hazelnuts make delicious homemade nut butter to spread on breads or to use in making cookies.
Simply place 1 cup shelled hazelnuts in a food processor and let it run until the nuts break down completely and hold together as a mass. If the mixture needs a little help in getting smoothed out, add a tablespoon of neutral vegetable oil or nut oil to the processor.
Once smooth (you can leave a little texture), transfer to a small, tightly lidded container. Store at room temperature if your kitchen is cool, otherwise refrigerate and bring to room temperature before using.
Make your own hazelnut milk
Like most nuts, hazelnuts can be “milked.” You can use almost any general nut milk recipe, swapping out hazelnuts for, say, almonds or cashews in similar recipes. Or, if you want to get specific, here’s a recipe for Homemade Hazelnut Milk.
Links to vegan recipes using hazelnuts
- Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
- No-Bake Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Bars
- Hazelnut No-Bake Brownies
- Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Tart
- Vegan Nutella Chocolate Pie Bars
- Root Vegetables with Toasted Hazelnuts
- Kale Basil Hazelnut Pesto
- Kale, Cabbage, and Brussels Sprouts Chopped Salad (note, use vegan Worcestershire sauce, or omit)
- Hazelnut Barley Pilaf with Pan-Roasted Root Veggies
- Hazelnut-Tahini Pasta
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