Time to harvest the hazelnuts!

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:

American Hazelnut

American Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

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.Sticky hairs on husk of hazelnut

Photo Credit: http://arcadianabe.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-midwest-wild-harvest-festival.html

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.

I find use of this type of nutcracker works best –Nutcracker

View nutrition information regarding hazelnuts.  Unfortunately, some people have an allergic reaction when eating hazelnuts.

For all of us who can enjoy these tasty nuts, please view these recipes for ideas and inspirations of how to enjoy them.

For those of you interested in perhaps growing your own hazelnut shrubs, look to these planting guides for more information –

Happy trails!


Mayapples now ripening

The fruit of these native wildflowers are ripening now.  Mayapples are most often found in forests with good soils, also referred to as “rich woods.”  They are common woodland plants found throughout our area; I have inventoried them at virtually every property listed on my Area Nature Preserves, Parks and Trails page.

Earlier this year (by mid-May), Mayapples were in bloom.


Mayapple bloom

Now, however, this is what to look for:ripened Mayapple fruitPhoto Credit

But, like all fruit, it is important to pick them when fully ripened, so that you can enjoy its fullest and truly unique flavor.  Wait until the skin is a translucent yellow (as shown above); don’t pick them when they are a somewhat opaque yellow or when they are still greenish (as shown below).Mayapple fruit

Photo Credit:  http://src.sfasu.edu/~jvk/PineywoodsPlants/Eudicotyledons/Berberidaceae/lrPodophyllum_peltatum6.jpg

The flavor is delicious and seemingly tropical; I don’t believe it compares with anything.  If you concur and are now wondering what to do with your freshly-picked fruity treasure, consider this recipe:  Mayapple Marmalade.

The book shown below contains additional Mayapple recipes; one each for punch, jam and jelly.  This book also contains many other recipes using a wide variety of wild edible plants.Wild Foods Field Guide and Cookbook (book cover)

For a more technical reading about Mayapple, view a U.S. Forest Service research paper.

Happy trails!