Hazelnuts, also known as filberts or cobnuts, are the sweet and versatile nuts that hail from the Corylus tree, native to Europe and Western Asia. These small, rounded nuts have a light-brown skin, encased in a hard, woody shell. Hazelnuts possess a delicate, nutty flavor and slightly crunchy texture, making them a perfect addition to a variety of dishes.
Enjoyed both raw and roasted, hazelnuts are often incorporated into various savory and sweet culinary creations such as salads, entrées, desserts, and baking recipes. They are famously paired with chocolate, most notably in the popular spread Nutella. Hazelnuts are also rich in nutrients, offering notable amounts of dietary fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Cooking with hazelnuts might seem daunting, but when done properly it can enhance your dish immensely. They can be used raw, roasted, chopped, or ground, making them incredibly versatile. Where many go wrong is in not toasting them enough, or over toasting them. Toasting hazelnuts brings out their rich, nutty flavor. To toast hazelnuts, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, checking frequently. Once done, wrap them in a kitchen towel and rub to remove as much skin as possible. Keep an eye on them while toasting as they can burn quickly. Another widespread mistake is chopping them too fine. Unless making a paste, it's best to roughly chop hazelnuts to maintain their texture. While grinding, combine them with a little sugar to prevent them from turning into a paste.
A less known tip is to balance the strong flavor of hazelnuts by combining them with mild or sweet components. For example, in a salad, pairing them with leafy greens and a sweet dressing can counterbalance their distinct flavor. Furthermore, using hazelnuts in baking can provide a crunchy contrast to soft cakes and cookies. Always remember to buy whole hazelnuts whenever possible and crack and peel them yourself for the freshest flavor.
How do you roast hazelnuts in the oven?
Why do you need to remove the skin from hazelnuts?
How can you quickly remove hazelnut skins?
My hazelnuts turned into a paste while grinding, how can I prevent this?
How can I use hazelnut oil in cooking?
How to use hazelnuts in baking?
Are hazelnuts healthy?
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Expiration & Storage Tips
When does hazelnuts expire?
Unshelled hazelnuts can be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight for up to a year. Once shelled, hazelnuts can be kept for up to 4 months at room temperature, or up to 1 year if refrigerated. If you freeze shelled hazelnuts, they can last up to 2 years. If they have been roasted or cooked in a dish, they are best used up within a week if stored in the fridge.
How do you tell if hazelnuts is bad?
Spoiled hazelnuts often develop a bitter or sour taste and their texture becomes soft or shriveled. Another tell-tale sign of a bad hazelnut is off-putting smell, similar to rancid oil. Always check for signs of mold or insects as these are indications that the nuts are no longer safe to consume.
Tips for storing hazelnuts to extend shelf life
• Keep hazelnuts in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.
• If storing at room temperature, choose a cool, dark cupboard away from heat sources such as the stove or oven.
• To extend the shelf life, consider refrigeration or freezing. Just remember to bring them back to room temperature before use for best flavor.
• If you buy hazelnuts in bulk, consider storing a small portion in the pantry for immediate use and the rest in the fridge or freezer to keep them fresh.