ForestHarvest: non-timber forest products in Scotland
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Hazel (Corylus avellana)
Also known as cobb nut
Small to medium-sized tree.
Common in the understorey among several types of broadleaved woodland.
The nuts are delicious, though not as large as the cultivated 'cobnuts' that are brought in from Europe. They are greenish when picked, and should be dried in a warm place.
Hazel twigs are used for basketry, and larger stems (from coppiced trees) for walking sticks, hurdles etc.
It used to be thought that feeding a newborn baby on the milky fluid from a green hazelnut would confer wisdom.
The flowering (catkin-bearing) stems are sometimes used in floral arrangements.
Hazelnuts should be gathered around September (if the squirrels don't get them first), though the exact timing varies locally.
Hazel nuts are among the 10 most commonly gathered Scottish NTFPs, according to the Wild Harvests report.
Richard Mabey, in his 'Food for Free', mentions a 15th-century pork recipe called noteye. Hazel leaves were pounded to a paste and mixed with ginger, saffron, salt, vinegar and sugar, and then added to minced pork.