This time of year is perfect for picking hazelnuts and you can make a delicious hazelnut butter with this quick and simple recipe.
The beginning of autumn is always one of my favourite times of the year – favourite not only for the fabulous spectacle of the autumnal woodland colour palette but also as hazelnuts ripen during September and October and are the perfect ingredient for some delicious recipes.
Hazel trees are a UK native species and can be found in woodland areas as well as scrub land and hedgerows. In the wild hazelnuts will often still be fresh and green, unlike the brown nuts you see in the supermarket. This is because squirrels and wildlife often get to them first.
But you can pick them in this condition and ripen them in a warm, dark place, like an airing cupboard. Just make sure to take them out of their outer shell before eating and to move them regularly.
Remember when foraging, please do so sustainably. The nuts are an important food source for squirrels, mice and bird species, such as woodpeckers and nuthatches. We wouldn't want those to go hungry.
One simple 30-minute recipe is for hazelnut butter. This is delicious when spread on toast or pancakes and particularly good drizzled over a sliced banana.
Ingredients for hazelnut butter
415g of hazelnuts
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of sugar
Preheat your oven to 180 C and pour hazelnuts on to a baking sheet in a single layer
Roast the nuts for 12-15 minutes
Let the nuts cool slightly, then transfer them on to a clean tea towel and rub off the skins gently. The more skins you get off the smoother the butter will be.
Leaving the skins behind pour the nuts into a food processor and blend on a low speed for about 10 minutes until a butter forms
Add in the seasonings, blend and taste
Then transfer your delicious butter to a clean jar and store at room temperature!
The opportunities are limitless for hazelnuts. They’re fantastic raw as a healthy snack, chopped up and popped into salads for an extra crunch or you can even grind them finely as a flour for baking!