Hazelnuts straight from the farm

Living in Oregon, hazelnuts (or filberts) are big business (I read that Oregon produces 97% of the US crop!).  I grew up cracking hazelnuts with my grandmother (her friend had owned a farm and gave us the ones that went through the "cracker" machine unscathed for free).

I think the insides of the cracker machine include rollers set to a certain width/height.  This way they crack the shells of most hazelnuts without crushing the nuts. But it means some get through without a crack in the shell.

Roasting/Toasting Hazelnuts:
You can toast hazelnuts in the oven at 275 to 300 degrees, let them cool a little, then rub them in your hands to remove some of the skins. 

I then poured some into a host cast iron pan and roasted with olive oil and salt... although next time I might use an oil with a higher smoking point/temperature, like peanut oil or ghee.   I have had "Salt roasted" hazelnuts where the salt seems to be melted onto the nut-- not sure how they do that as I've read salt melts at over 1500 F!!  Next up I want to try roasting with some honey or sugar in addition to a pinch of salt for a sweet-salty effect.

In case you're curious about yields:
I purchased 5 pounds of hazelnuts in the shell for $2 a pound.  The farmer ran them through the crakcing machine for free.

I spent 30 minutes separating the shell pieces from the nuts and putting the uncracked nuts in a bowl (see above).

In the end, about half of the weight was shell.  Thus the price per pound of nut meat was less than $6.

And that doesn't include the 13 oz of un-cracked nuts I need to crack by hand (approx 15% of what I purchased was un-cracked by the cracking machine).  So once I get to those, I'd bet the final price is $5 per pound of nuts (better than the $9-10 per pound I see in stores).

You can use the left over shells in your garden as mulch. I've read that slugs don't like to crawl over the shells because of their sharp edges. 

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