When most of us think of hazelnuts (or filberts), we think of those round nuts in holiday nut mixes. Historically, hazelnuts have hailed from Europe or Oregon, and have made their way into beloved products like hazelnut liqueur (think Frangelico), or sweet spreads like Nutella. So you might be surprised to find smaller, bulk batches of locally grown hazelnuts popping up at local markets around the Twin Cities. As it turns out, there are two wild species of hazelnuts that are hardy in the cold north woods, and clever Midwestern farmers have figured out how to grow and market them.
Hazelnut Valley Farm is owned and operated by Norm and Mary Erickson in Lake City, Minn. They grow, harvest, and process hazelnuts with a little help from a nifty solar-heated greenhouse. Now, you can purchase their Minnesota-grown Hazelnut Valley Farm hazelnuts at Seward Co-op.
Hazelnuts have a buttery, slightly sweet flavor and are said to be a good source of protein, unsaturated fat, thiamine, and vitamin B6. They can be stored for three months in your cupboard, or up to a year in your freezer. I’m eager to try my hand at a homemade version of Nutella. But if you’re interested in enjoying the nut in a simpler fashion, here’s a foolproof method for roasting them.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Coat the hazelnuts with a thin, even coating of olive oil.
Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking pan.
Let them roast for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove them from the oven.
Rub with a towel to remove the skin.
Lightly sprinkle them with sea salt, and allow them to cool.