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History of Nuts - Hazelnuts




  Hazelnuts and their close relatives are part of the wild flora of many regions of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Hazelnuts grow on shrubs that grow well in cool, deciduous woodlands, as they love cool, somewhat moist weather, even though in turkey they grow on rocky hillsides. The variety that grows wild in Europe, particularly in the Mediterranean region and in the Balkans, is the corylus avellana, while in North America we find the American hazel and the beaked hazel. Hazelnuts are often called filberts as they ripen in August around St. Phil Bert Day. Another name for hazelnuts, not used too often today, is cobnuts.


   At times, we find hazelnut trees that grow to a fair size, like the Turkish Tree Hazel, that can grow to a height of 120 feet. All the many species of hazelnut shrubs and trees produce edible nuts, but some of them produce a much smaller nut than the typical available on the market today.

   The hazelnut has a husk around the shell that is very unusual and quite different from most other tree nuts; it is almost like a beautifully designed sheet of paper that packages the nut.



   Throughout history, hazelnuts have been considered a symbol of wisdom knowledge. Together with other fruits, were gathered in the woods of prehistoric Britain.

   Hazelnuts have a rich lore, and many myths surround them. References to them abound in ancient Greek and Roman writings and mythology and in the Bible, where they are mentioned for their nutritional and healing power. Pliny, who wrote about pants in the first century after Christ, and Theophrastus, a Greek philosopher probably born in 731 B.C. who was a leader of the peripatetic and a teacher of botany and natural history, both wrote about hazelnuts.



   The two major hazelnut-growing areas are turkey and Oregon of the United States. The difference between the ways the two regions harvest hazelnuts is intriguing. In turkey, the largest hazelnut producer in the world, hazelnuts are produced in an uneven fashion on rocky, steep hillsides in clumps of four or five bushes. There are no typical ?orchards?, in contrast with Oregon, where the orchards are carefully designed. In turkey, the agricultural techniques are primitive, and the nuts are hand harvested before they drop to the ground. In the Pacific Northwest, hazelnut farming is done by machine: the nuts are mechanically harvested off the ground.

   At one time in Oregon, wild bushes of hazelnuts grew along fence rows and fascinated young children with their tiny edible nuts, which were much smaller than the ones grown commercially today.

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