Now that Skunk Cabbage is blooming, I was inspired to search for another early blooming species due to the continuation of recent sunny and warm days. I decided to stroll along a couple of the towpath trails at Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park.
And I was rewarded with these –
As you enjoy these colorful tiny blooms today, think about what is to come. The nuts of both species of hazelnuts typically are ready for picking locally in late August or early September.
Your targets will look like these:
Each is ripe when the shell has turned to a brown color, which occurs before the outer husk turns brown. If you wait to pick them when the husk has turned brown, you will likely not find any – resident critters (mostly chipmunks and red squirrels) will have harvested them before you! However, do not pick any nut if its shell is green, cream or whitish in color – it is simply not yet ripe.
When picking them, I recommend wearing leather gloves because of the tiny sticky hairs on the husks. If you don’t, your fingertips can become quite painful to the touch – it may feel like you’ve been handling fiberglass insulation.
Let your harvest air dry for several days. Doing do should enable you to peel the husk off of each nut more easily. After you remove the outer husk, I suggest that you rinse the nuts (still in shell) with water. Then, let your husked harvest air dry for at least a couple of weeks before cracking open – doing so will help ensure the nut separates easily from the shell when you crack them open.
For all of us who can enjoy these tasty nuts, please view these recipes for ideas and inspirations of how to enjoy them.