Hazelnuts

18 Interesting Facts About Hazelnuts (Fruit)

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Introduction

Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, are a delicious and versatile nut that can be enjoyed in many ways. Though small, these nutrient-packed nuts provide several health benefits and have an interesting history of cultivation spanning centuries.

From their importance in Turkish culture to their many culinary uses, hazelnuts have a lot to offer. Read on to discover 18 fascinating facts about the rich and flavorful hazelnut.

brown almond on clear glass bowl

Facts About Hazelnuts

1. Hazelnuts Grow in Clusters

Hazelnuts grow in bunches of one to five nuts per cluster. The nut clusters grow together at the ends of branches on hazelnut trees, which can grow up to 10-13 meters tall.

2. China Produces the Most Hazelnuts

While Turkey is famous for its high-quality hazelnuts, China produces the most by total volume – providing about 64% of the world’s hazelnuts. Turkey comes in second at around 75,000 tons per year.

3. Hazelnut Oil is Full of Vitamin E

Hazelnut oil contains the highest concentration of vitamin E of any nut or vegetable oil. Vitamin E has antioxidant properties and can help protect cells from damage.

4. Hazelnuts are an Important Crop in Turkey

About 70-75% of the world’s highest quality hazelnuts come from Turkey. Turkish hazelnuts are prized for their large, plump shape and delicate, sweet flavor. The Black Sea region of Turkey is ideal for growing hazelnuts.

5. Ancient Hazelnut Fossils Found

Fossilized hazelnut shells and pollen dating back to the Miocene epoch (5 to 23 million years ago) have been found in Europe and Asia. This suggests hazelnuts may have first emerged in prehistoric times.

6. Hazelnuts are Classified as Tree Nuts

Though the word “nut” is in their name, hazelnuts are actually considered tree nuts rather than true nuts like acorns or chestnuts. Tree nuts are defined as nuts that grow on trees, while true nuts grow underground near tree roots.

7. Early European Settlers Brought Hazelnuts to North America

Hazelnuts are native to Europe and Asia, but were introduced to North America by early settlers. Commercial hazelnut orchards first emerged in Oregon in the early 1900s and the state remains the largest commercial producer in North America.

8. Hazelnut Shells Were Used as Currency

In ancient times, hazelnut shells were used as a type of currency in some parts of Europe. The durable, lightweight shells were abundant and helped enable the exchange of goods and services.

9. Hazelnuts are Highly Nutritious

A one-ounce serving of hazelnuts contains 17g of fat, mostly healthy unsaturated fats, as well as 4g of protein and 2g of fiber. Hazelnuts also provide vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium, iron and beneficial plant compounds like flavonoids.

10. ‘Cobnut’ is an Old English Name for Hazelnut

Cobnuts and filberts are traditional English names used to describe certain varieties of hazelnuts. Cobnut comes from ‘cobbe nucu’ meaning ‘round nut’ in Old English. Filbert likely comes from St. Philibert’s day.

11. The Hazelnut Tree has Flexible Wood

The wood of the Corylus avellana or European hazel tree is remarkably flexible and resistant to cracking. Historically, it was used to make wicker baskets, walking sticks, and the frames of early aircraft.

12. 90% of US Hazelnuts are Used by Food Industry

The vast majority of hazelnuts produced in the United States are consumed as an ingredient by food manufacturers. Popular commercial uses include spreads like Nutella, confections, baked goods, cereals, coffee, ice cream and more.

13. Some People are Allergic to Hazelnuts

Tree nut allergies are one of the most common food allergies. Hazelnuts can trigger symptoms like hives, swelling, breathing issues or even anaphylaxis in those with an allergy. Those with a tree nut allergy should avoid hazelnuts.

14. Wild Hazel Trees Grow as Shrubs

Wild hazel trees usually grow in a large multi-stemmed shrub form rather than a single trunk tree. They spread by suckers and underground rhizomes to form dense thickets of shrubbery that can provide cover for wildlife.

15. Hazelnut Harvest Season is Late Summer to Fall

Hazelnuts mature in late summer to early fall. The nuts fall from the tree while still encased in a bitter green husk. Commercial growers time mechanical harvesting to occur after nut drop.

16. Some Native American Tribes Used Hazelnuts

Several tribes like the Hoh, Makah, and Quileute traditionally harvested wild hazelnuts as a food source. The nuts were an important part of traditional diets in some Pacific Northwest and Northeastern tribes.

17. Hazelnuts Grow Best in Cool, Moist Climates

Hazelnuts thrive best in areas with cool, wet winters and mild summers with adequate rainfall. These conditions are found in coastal regions and cooler mountainous areas that provide an appropriate chill period.

18. Turkeys Like to Eat Fallen Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts provide a convenient natural food source for local wildlife like squirrels, deer, blue jays, grouse and wild turkeys after the nuts drop from trees. Turkeys will voraciously feed on hazelnuts accessible on the ground.

Conclusion

From their rich history to their many uses today, hazelnuts are a fascinating nut. They emerge on graceful trees as a valuable crop packed with healthy fats and nutrients. Hazelnuts have provided sustenance for humans and animals for millennia. Next time you enjoy the sweet, warm flavor of hazelnuts, remember just how remarkable they truly are.


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