Forage Friday #101 Hazelnut

Hello Friends! Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Hazelnut Catkins 32321a”

Please remember that Forage Friday is presented as trivia and not to be mistaken for medical advice.

The idea of Forage Friday for me was part of a challenge to at least 100 useful plants growing near my home and learn as much as I can about them. Now this is Forage Friday post number 101 but since over the past couple of years I’ve missed a post here and there we haven’t quite reached 100 plants. With that said, I plan to continue the series past 100. Forage Friday may take different forms here and there when something isn’t in season or just can’t be located but my goal is to learn how to identify and use as much from nature as possible. We’ll probably even look at meat sometime in the future. But for now, let’s get onto #ForageFriday number 101, Hazelnut.

If you’re like me, when you think of Hazelnut your first thoughts are about the delicious, thin shelled nuts that turn up in the produce aisle at Christmas. But, Hazelnut has something to offer in early Spring too. Hazelnut Catkins. If you’ve never eaten catkins before you might have to adjust your expectations a little. I think that the best description I’ve seen is “mildly bitter with the texture of sawdust”. It makes you wonder why people would eat them but going by the time of year when they’re available I’d say they were a bit of an emergency food used to stretch out thinning supplies. And since they are a pollen producing structure it’s a safe bet that they’re protein rich. The only catkins I’ve personally sampled were birch and the experience wasn’t really all that great. However, that was raw and fresh from the twigs. One online source staid that dropping them into boiling water makes them release all their pollen at once and when mixed with honey it improves the flavor quite a bit. Several trees in Appalachia have catkins and are out this time of year. The hazelnut is kind enough to give us an easy to spot clue as to its identity. If you look closely at the Featured image you’ll see tiny little pinkish red flowers that are just out of focus. ( there’s a wild rose with red buds and leaves as well). The female flowers on hazelnut are born on little cones that are tipped with these flowers. They are entirely pollinated by the wind so they don’t need large flowers to attract insects. They also need different varieties present to ensure pollination. Even though a single tree has both male and female flowers they cannot self pollinate.

The catkins are said to have some medicinal values. They are astringent so a strong tea would most likely be good for the skin as a wash. They promote healthy sweating and thus help flush out toxins. They are said to reduce fever as well as having been used to sooth toothache.

Of course the nut is still what they’re famous for. Like all nuts hazelnut is rich in protein and oil. Here’s the breakdown for 1 ounce of hazelnuts.

176 calories

17 grams of fat

4.2 grams of protein

4.7 carbohydrates

2.7 grams of fiber

21% of a days worth of vitamin E

12% of your Thiamine and Magnesium

24% of your daily copper intake

And 81% of the Manganese you need in a day.

Hazelnuts are known to have phytic acid which is believed to inhibit the absorption of Zinc and iron so like with everything else moderation is important.

The hazelnut is also rich in polyphenols. According to Government Statistics they are the richest of the tree nuts in these compounds that may help prevent things like heart disease and cancer.

Hazelnut milk sounds like an awesome idea for those who like cream in their coffee. There’s plenty of online recipes but the basics are the same for any nut milk.

Place a small amount of nuts in a bowl with water ( filtered or distilled ). Allow to soak overnight and blend. Then strain and add a little vanilla.

While doing my online research I stumbled across this lady who was making a German Hazelnut Cake! The hazelnuts provide the flour.

Recently, almonds have come under a little fire because they’re farmed in areas where water is a bit more of a premium resource. I’ve stated privately that in my area you can almost poke a hole in the ground anywhere and hit water and we have strip mines that once they’re rehabilitated are begging for a purpose. Wouldn’t it be a great idea to transform a piece of barren land into a renewable resource and source of food as well as economic growth? Assuming that the land is ready for planting hazelnuts on the average produce the first marketable crop within 5 years as opposed to 20 or 30 years for timber. If you can inoculate the grounds with the right symbiotic fungus that produce edible mushrooms your harvest could be sooner and self-sustaining.

Image Titled “Hazelnut Catkins 32321b”.

Lastly, I’d be doing the topic of hazelnut an injustice if I didn’t at least touch on coppicing. Hazelnut is one of those trees that loves to be cut. The practice of coppicing hazelnut has been around since ancient times. When done right it actually extends the life of the tree and increases it’s productivity. The parts that regrow are generally referred to as “rods”. The grow back straighter and stronger. The rods were used for everything from walking sticks to woven wall panels. Walls were made by weaving a kind of oversized wicker panel and coated with cob ( a mixture of straw and clay ) similar to some of the early homes in Appalachia. The hazelnut rods also provided flat bows and arrows as well firewood.

Coppicing was also used to create living fences in western Europe. As I understand it each village even had its own style and patterns to the fence. The basic technique was to only partially cut the hazelnut tree and the weave the living stock into the hedge row. Because the tree was still alive it would continue to grow and send out branches that strengthened the wall.

That’s about it for tonight friends. Good night and be blessed throughout your days.

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3 thoughts on “Forage Friday #101 Hazelnut

  1. Again I learned new things about Hazelnuts. Didn’t know they used the wood to build walls along with mud. Also, the Hazelnut catkins sounds interesting for nutrition, even if they taste like sawdust.

    Happy Resurrection Day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 😊.
      Yes they were used in Ireland for “waddle and daub” construction and in some cottages they tied the cib brick together. The walls of cob house are generally two feet thick and for that region its actually frost proof.
      Red Alder catkins are actually sweeter but in both tge nutrition comes from the pollen. The texture comes from the structure so there might be a way to sift out the pollen and have the best of both worlds.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! Never ate any catkins of any kind, but who knows, I might try it some day. The frost proof houses sound very promising. Here in Alaska we put much insulation in our walls and heat the houses to stay warm.
        Just got about 15 inches of snow today. It has been snowing much every day for the past 3 weeks!
        Have a great week!

        Liked by 1 person

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