A what nut?

12 Sep
by FrancineA photo of cobnuts at the supermarket

Last week I was poking around our local supermarket when I noticed a new item.

“Cobnuts,” I said aloud to Scott (my plus one), who was on the other side of the aisle rustling through onions.

“Cobnuts!” he said excitedly. 

“What are they?” I asked.

To which he selected a handful for us to crack open at home, promising I’d enjoy them.

After turning to the internet for answers, I’ll tell you what I learned about cobnuts.  They are commercially cultivated hazelnuts, the most popular is the Kentish Cobnut which has been cultivated in the region since the 1500s.  I also discovered that you can buy  cobnut oil, grown and produced in Kent.  (Remember when we visited a Kentish tea room?  Click back tomorrow, I’ll share some photos from our weekend day trip to the prettiest castle in Kent.) A photo of cobnuts Even though cobnuts are technically grown and sold commercially, Scott recounted childhood memories of checking to see if the cobnuts on the bush-like tree in his childhood garden (yard) were ready for picking.  He told me that the nuts required frequent checking to ensure you got a handful before the squirrels started munching on them too.

A photo of a cracked open cobnutAfter my internet research, we cracked open our cobnuts.  The green frilly casing was soft and easy to remove.  We cracked open the strong shell with a pair of pliers.  The next step was to remove ALL of the skin… I was told that even a small speck of skin will turn your tasty treat bitter and vile.A photo of the skin peeled

Once all the skin was removed, it was time for my first cobnut…the taste was sweet and earthy, it reminded me of the smell of freshly shelled peas, but since then I’ve heard it described as similar to coconuts.

We quickly munched through our handful of cobnuts and purchased some more on our next visit to the store. They are only in season for a few weeks and the wild ones are probably available for an even shorter period of time due to the gastronomic preferences of grey squirrels. A photo of a ready to eat cobnut

I loved discovering them at the store.  When I was in China new food discoveries were a near daily occurrence, but it hasn’t happened as much in my new home.  But when it does it makes me as excited as squirrel discovering a cobnut tree!

Do you know, can you pick wild hazelnuts in your area?  Have you ever tried a cobnut?A photo of the cobnut stages

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7 Responses to “A what nut?”

  1. Rachel@hammeringourwayhome.com September 12, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Love hearing your stories from across the pond. Never heard of these. If they are like coconuts, I am in!

  2. cooking with audrey September 12, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    that is a first for me!!! how exciting!

    • realocalcooking September 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

      It was exciting to discover something new. Thanks for your comment! :)

  3. Corrine September 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    Never heard of cobnuts!! What a fun discovery.. Thanks for sharing.

    • realocalcooking September 20, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

      Discovering new food is fun! Glad you could share in my discovery!

  4. realocalcooking September 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Thanks all for your comments on cobnuts. I wish I could press them into an email and send some to you so that you could have a taste too! Now you know of something to look for if you ever visit England in early autumn. :)

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