Wednesday 18 September 2013

Chock full o'nuts

After the total failure of our nut harvest last year, when we didn't get a single walnut on our old tree, this year seems to be making up for it. This is probably down to the weather improving pollination, and the weather again, which has caused a crash in the population of small rodents. Today I harvested cobnuts and filberts from our bushes, planted in 2007 and producing a reasonable yield for the first time.

Hazel Nuts [Corylus avellana]

Cobnuts (avelines in French) are hazelnuts with attitude. Cobs and hazels are the same species, Corylus avellana, and we have a wild specimen in the hedge at the end of the orchard. Filberts are a different species, Corylus maxima, originating on the Balkan peninsula. The cobnut has a short husk (papery casing to the nut) from which the nut protrudes, whereas the husk of the filbert is long and covers the nut. The famous Kentish Cob is in fact a filbert. As the flowering of male and female flowers does not always coincide and weather conditions may be unfavourable, the Royal Horticultural Society advise that better pollination is obtained if two or more cultivars are planted.

A comparison... Filberts on the left, hazel cobs on the right.

Our allotmenting friend Andy Lawrence kindly gave us seven offsets (suckers or whips) from his Webb's Prize Cobnut which we planted in a diagonal across our orchard to separate the tree fruit area from the soft fruit. Over the years the littlest of these clung to life and finally established itself, while the others grew away strongly. All seven have fruited this year, the little one producing two clusters, but, hey, it got there! Today's harvest came to 457 grammes, or just over a pound, when removed from the husks, not vast but very satisfying. The husks are very long and I suspect they have some filbert in their ancestry!

The harvest, part way through tidying... Webb's Prize Cob are already bagged... the Halle'sche Reisennuss are being dehusked.

The filbert came from RV Roger of Pickering, North Yorkshire, an excellent source of orchard fruit tees, also bulbs and roses - and they deliver to France! We chose Halle'sche Reisennuss filbert for its splendid Wagnerian name, although it is also known as Hall's Giant. It came as a bush, I would guess about three years old, and has so far retained its advantage in size although filberts are smaller trees than cobs. After de-husking, the two sets of nuts look identical, and the weight of filberts came in at 451 grammes.

A close up of the Halle'sche Reisennuss filberts.

Finally we found a small handful of hazel nuts on the tree in our front hedge. These look very ripe and we probably lost a lot more - a reminder for next year to look for them before the cultivated nuts are ready.

We had already harvested about 150g of cobs and filberts, and a few others remain still to ripen, so I reckon the final yield will be something over a kilo. They will be perfect for hazelnut ice cream - recipes to follow!


Jean said...

I had no idea that nuts could be so fascinating!
Glad you got a decent crop of them this year and hazelnut ice cream ........ Yum !!

Susan said...

Thanks for the technical stuff about the differences. I hope I can find the time to harvest at least some of ours.

Pollygarter said...

JEan, I think it could be a bit fiddly peeling off the inner skins, but it'll be worth it! Susan, I/m glad I inspired you. It sounds like your hazels are in a more sheltered spot, though half of the native hazel nuts I collected were empty... P.