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Hazlenuts are my favorite for holiday cookies. The problem with them is that the skins are very bitter and until I learned this trick, nearly impossible to get off. The toasting method doesn’t do a good job and, worse, ruins the kitchen towel used to rub off the skins. So, I tried doing hazelnuts the way I do the almonds to make my Almond Paste. With the addition of some baking soda, it works!
• 1 cup shelled hazelnuts
• 3 cups boiling water
• 4 Tbsp baking soda
Please read the cautions before beginning.
1. Bring the water with the baking soda to a boil, dump in the hazelnuts. Turn the burner down and keep at a simmer for about 3 minutes. Take one nut out and check it under cool running water to make sure the skin slips right off — give them another 30 seconds if need be.
2. Drain the nuts through a colander and run cool water from the faucet over to cool them. Drain thoroughly. Have ready a small bowl and a little trash bag. Put down a couple paper towels in case of drips.
3. Pick up each nut and give it a pinch — the skin slips right off. A few may need a scrape with a fingernail for a stubborn bit. When all the nuts are skinned, dry them on the paper towel and then toast in a 300-degree oven for about 10 minutes. The nuts are already slightly stained a pinkish color, so watch carefully.
4. When the nuts are a lovely light brown, turn off the oven and let the nuts cool — they should crisp right up. When completely cool, store in a jar or zipper bag until ready to use for delicious cookies.
Use a pot bigger than you think — I used a 3 quart stainless for just this much. To do a larger quantity, consider using your pasta pot. When you dump the hazelnuts into the pot of boiling water with baking soda, it foams up! A lot.
Lift the pot up and stir down the foam, turn down the burner. When it subsides, put the pot back on the burner and watch it, keeping the water at a simmer for the 3 minutes. It will keep foaming up if it comes all the way to a full boil. Just manage it and you’ll be fine. The water turns dark, nearly black looking, the foam is pink.
When you finish pinching all the skins off, your fingertips will be rose color — if this is socially unacceptable, wear nitrile gloves. It wears off in a day, no problem.
1 cup of hazelnuts weighs 0.3 pound.
Store a week or two in the cupboard, 2 months in the refrigerator, 6 months in the freezer.
Now we’re ready to start on lots of holiday goodies with our beautiful hazlenuts. Stay tuned right here on MOTHER’s Real Food blog page.
Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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