A Nut Is A Nut

It is well known that I am not the most world savvy person (a gross understatement). It’s pretty basic stuff that I know, that I am comfortable with and what stays floating around in my fairly small circle of knowledge. But I recently happened to come upon a tidbit that surprised the heck out of me and made me investigate further.

Growing up we had all kinds of garden fruits, vegetables, fruit bearing trees and nut trees. Something always needed to be sown, trimmed, weeded, harvested or dug up. We had late summer nuts of filberts, English walnuts and Black walnuts. Continue reading


Fiberts For The Freezer

Filberts packaged for the freezer.The filberts are just about finished falling from the trees.

It was a very good production year and gathering, drying, cracking, sorting and packaging has been keeping me busy.

While the gathering has been done in spurts throughout the day, the rest of the production has been taking place during those quiet moments when I can crack and sort during the evening after dinner (making messes and the quiet time not so quiet after all).

A friend of mine has been saying that they have tasted hazelnut pie, a version of pecan pie made with local filberts. It is now on my list of recipes that I would like to try out this winter when I spend more time indoors.

More Filberts

A tray of filberts.The filberts/hazelnuts have been falling a little at a time as they ripen. It has become a daily chore, picking up the filberts that had fallen during the night. At first it was just a few each morning, now the amount off the four trees fill up a couple of coffee cans. If left on the ground, the Gray Squirrels and raccoons will move in and harvest them for me. The Jaybirds are hitting the ripening crop wildly and they can be seen and heard squawking and pecking as I am harvesting.

The evidence can be found as I pick up the fallen nuts.Two filberts that had been pecked by Jaybirds.

The nut on the left has been picked clean, the one on the right had been broken into, but the bird only got half of the nut before it accidentally dropped it on the ground. These shells will go in with the husks and the broken shells that I have to the bull pen path.

It takes more time for me each morning as the husks are also falling, many times the nuts are still encased. As I de-husk, I throw the husks that you had seen in earlier posts into a bushel basket that is dumped when full to continue to pave the path in the bull pen.

The garage is loaded with trays of drying nuts. I will have to get all the filberts out of the way soon because the walnuts will be starting to fall anytime now. The nuts on the mesh trays are still very wet and the ones in the round trays are almost dried and already have been shelled to complete the drying process.

After they are dried, they will be sealed in bags and frozen until needed. The crop is astounding this year, this harvest is the largest that I can remember.


Path Paved With Good Intentions and Filberts

The way out to the bull pen barn can get muddy and slippery during the winter time. Instead of opening gates to make the twice daily walk, a shortcut has been made that requires a step over an electric fence and between the stock tanks along the edge of the two pens.

The narrow path over electric fence and between stock tanks.The path does not allow for error, one slip and you would end up in a tank or tangled in the hot fence. Neither option is glamorous, funny or healthy for the person who has to feed the bulls.

Since the filbert trees are giving me tons of fibrous refuse, my plan is to layer both husks and shells as a way to pave this path before winter sets in.

The husks on the tree hold the nuts while they are forming.A set of three filberts in husk. As the nuts mature, the good ones fall out of the husks. The nuts that remain firmly attached inside the husks are blanks, or what my family knows as duds.

Nuts in husks.The duds and the husks fall from the tree also. I harvest the duds and husks into a second bucket as I pick up the good nuts with the ratio being about 10/1 in favor of the duds.

Husks and duds in bucket.

Also, after I shell the nuts, the broken shells will be added to the path. As the path is walked the husks, duds and shells will mix in with dirt, mud and rocks that are already there and form a solid path through the obstacle course to the bull barn.

Path covered with filbert husks and shells.

The path will continue to get more husks and shells as I work through the piles of filberts that I have picked up.


Filberts hanging on the tree.The filberts are hanging heavy on the nut trees this year. It is a good thing because last year between the drought, the Stellar Jays and the Grey Squirrels, all I got from the hazelnut trees were a couple of cups of empty nuts.

Growing up on a farm with a couple of filbert trees, I did not know that they were known as hazelnuts by most of the world. I also had no idea that Oregon is one of the world leaders for hazelnut production. All I knew was that a nut fresh off the tree and smashed with a rock to break it open, offers the best tasting nut. Many hours of my youth were spent by the filbert trees. I really didn’t care for the nut once it had been dried like you would see in the grocery store unless it was baked into delicious desserts. Eating the nuts raw spoiled me for the dried versions.

There are little tricks to harvesting filberts.

First is gathering the nuts.A tray of filberts. In the big, commercial orchards, large vacuum tractors will suck up the nuts and deposit them into large bins. Here on the farm we go out daily to gather what nuts fell during the last few hours. If the nuts are left on the ground, the squirrels and dogs will do their own harvesting. Yes, dogs love nuts! You can hear them biting down to crack the shell, then instead of removing the nut they eat shell and all.

Next is drying the nuts. Commercially, nuts are put through a drier akin to a dehydrator. I place nuts on trays in single layers and let them dry for a couple of weeks. When I was growing up, we used nylons. Mom would load up a nylon leg with a bucket of nuts and place it on the porch to dry in the sun. Several times over the next weeks, she would rotate the legs of nuts so the drying would be uniform. Over the years, nylons changed from single legs to pantyhose. It was a wonderful boon to the drying process. Pantyhose held each leg full of nuts and the panty part held another leg full, three legs at a time! Those driving along the road could see what looked like the lower half of people tanning in the sunlight.

Next is cracking the nuts. Growing up, my Dad had made a cracking machine. It was a cobbled together piece of equiment with two wheels that could be adjusted to the size of the nuts needing cracking. Everything from walnuts to filberts would be crushed as they slid one by one down a track and through the machine. One of my brothers still has and uses the old machine and if I have a fantastic heavy harvest, I’ll take the pile of dried nuts down to him to crack. In the meantime, I crack them a few at a time by hand. The reason it is only a few at a time is because it doesn’t take long before blisters get in the way of a good cracking technique.

Last is shelling the nuts. Once they are all cracked, they have to be sorted to remove all of the shells, this process takes longer than all the picking, cracking and drying combined. It may take all winter.



Help From The Kittens

I don’t mind squirrels, Stellar Jays, Gray Diggers and the like as long as they stay away from my filbert (hazelnut) trees.

Last year it was a veritable parade of food-stealing varmints raiding the nuts until there was only a cup of nuts left from the whole row of trees. This year, the kittens are helping with the varmint control, kind of. They are spending more and more time playing among the branches.

Time will tell if these little helpers are actually doing good or if the birds are still able to sneak in and steal the nuts while they cavort around the branches