I read today that I can be officially classed as a nutter. It wasn’t an insult it’s what you call someone who picks cobnuts (a cultivated form of hazelnuts). The nutter police might disqualify me from their nutty inner circle if they knew that I didn’t actually pick any of my cobnuts off the tree. But when the squirrels beat you to it there’s not much else you can do but scrabble about on your hands and knees foraging amongst their leftovers. I know people are quick to laugh at squirrels for apparently hiding their nuts and forgetting where they buried them but our allotment squirrels are obviously cleverer than that. As I suspected more than half the cobnuts I scavenged were empty and this was all I had to show for an hour of collecting and cracking.
So was it really worth the effort? Of course. Fresh cobnuts taste delicious (much nicer than bitter dried out shop bought hazelnuts) and it’s said that 6 cobnuts contain as much protein as a 4oz sirloin steak. It was hard to resist scoffing the lot but I stopped at a 12oz steak portion and tried out Pam Corbin’s Honeyed Hazels recipe with the handful that were left. Pam recommends packing the nuts in tightly and you can see what happens when you don’t have enough nuts in the jar.
So like the squirrel will I have some lovely nuts to return to in winter or will I forget where I left them? Neither, they’ve already been gobbled up, straight of the spoon with no regrets at not trying them drizzled over yoghurt, chocolate ice cream, porridge or muesli. Delicious.
To make 2 x 225g jars of honeyed nuts
500g hazelnuts or cobnuts
340g clear honey
- Crack all the nuts and remove the kernels.
- Heat a frying pan over a low heat. Toast the shelled nuts in batches for 4-5 minutes, jiggling and shaking the pan to make sure they don’t burn. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Pack the nuts into sterilised jars adding 1 tbsp of honey at every third or fourth layer. Continue until the jars are chock-a-block full, making sure that the nuts are well covered in honey.
- Seal securely with a lid and store in a cool, dry, dark place. Use within 12 months.
(First published 1st October 2009)