Hazelnut are nuts of hazel; they are also called cob nuts and filbert nuts. Filbert nuts are more elongated (twice as long as they are round). These nuts fall from their husks when ripe (that is, seven to eight months past pollination). Hazelnuts are oftentimes used as livestock feed or ground into paste. Hazelnut is produced especially in Greece, Turkey, Italy and the American States Washington and Oregon. Hazelnuts are also used alongside chocolate for chocolate truffles. Moreover, hazelnut are rich in proteins and unsaturated fats.
Ferrero SpA, the maker of Nutella and Ferrero Rocher, uses 25% of the global supply of hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are used in confections to make pralines, chocolate truffles, and hazelnut paste products. In Austria, hazelnut paste is an ingredient for making tortes, such as Viennese hazelnut torte. In Kiev cake, hazelnut flour is used to flavor its meringue body, and crushed hazelnuts are sprinkled over its sides. Dacquoise, a French dessert cake, often contains a layer of hazelnut meringue. Hazelnuts are used in Turkish cuisine and Georgian cuisine; the snack churchkhela and sauce satsivi are used, often with walnuts. The nuts may be eaten fresh or dried, having different flavors.
Hazelnuts are harvested annually in mid-autumn. As autumn comes to a close, the trees drop their nuts and leaves. Most commercial growers wait for the nuts to drop on their own, rather than using equipment to shake them from the tree. The harvesting of hazelnuts is performed either by hand or, by manual or mechanical raking of fallen nuts.
Four primary pieces of equipment are used in commercial harvesting: the sweeper, the harvester, the nut cart, and the forklift. The sweeper moves the nuts into the center of the rows, the harvester lifts and separates the nuts from any debris (i.e. twigs and leaves), the nut cart holds the nuts picked up by the harvester, and the forklift brings a tote to offload the nuts from the nut cart and then, stacks the totes to be shipped to the processor (nut dryer).
The sweeper is a low-to-the-ground machine that makes two passes in each tree row. It has a 2 m (6 ft 7 in) belt attached to the front that rotates to sweep leaves, nuts, and small twigs from left to right, depositing the material in the center of the row as it drives forward. On the rear of the sweeper is a powerful blower to blow material left into the adjacent row with air speeds up to 90 m/s (300 ft/s). Careful grooming during the year and patient blowing at harvest may eliminate the need for hand raking around the trunk of the tree, where nuts may accumulate. The sweeper prepares a single center row of nuts narrow enough for the harvesting tractor to drive over without driving on the center row. It is best to sweep only a few rows ahead of the harvesters at any given time, to prevent the tractor that drives the harvester from crushing the nuts that may still be falling from the trees. Hazelnut orchards may be harvested up to three times during the harvest season, depending on the quantity of nuts in the trees and the rate of nut drop as a result of weather.
The harvester is a slow-moving machine pushed by a tractor, which lifts the material off the ground and separates the nuts from the leaves, empty husks, and twigs. As the harvester drives over the rows, a rotating cylinder with hundreds of tines, rakes the material onto a belt. The belt takes the material over a blower and under a powerful vacuum that sucks any lightweight soil and leaves from the nuts, and discharges them into the orchard. The remaining nuts are conveyed into a nut cart that is pulled behind the harvester. Once a tote is filled with nuts, the forklift hauls away the full totes and bring empty ones back to the harvester to maximize the harvester's time.
Two different timing strategies are used for collecting the fallen nuts. The first is to harvest early, when about half of the nuts have fallen. With less material on the ground, the harvester can work faster with less chance of a breakdown. The second option is to wait for all the nuts to fall before harvesting. Although the first option is considered the better of the two, two or three passes do take more time to complete than one. Weather also must be a consideration. Rain inhibits harvest and should a farmer wait for all the nuts to fall after a rainy season, it becomes much more difficult to harvest. Pickup also varies with how many acres are being farmed as well as the number of sweepers, harvesters, nut carts, and forklifts available.
In 2016, world production of hazelnuts (in shells) was 743,455 tonnes, a 20% decrease from 2015. Turkey produced 57% of the world total, followed by Italy, the United States, Azerbaijan and Georgia (table).
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Hazelnut Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.