Hazelnuts for taste and health

HGA newsletter, January 2004

Fresh hazelnuts are certainly good for us. They are a good source of energy, high in monounsaturated fatty acid and oleic acid, and very low in saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are a good source of micronutrients, vitamin A, E, B12, and amino acids. And best of all they are cholesterol free. 

We usually think of hazelnuts being chocolate covered as a sweet, but they have so many other uses:

  • In salads
  • Breading and batters on fish, chicken, or pork
  • Stuffing for fish, chicken, or pork
  • Sprinkled onto cooked vegetables
  • Baking
  • Wok cooking
  • With pasta
  • In soups
  • With pesto
  • In burgers
  • Simply roasted and salted
  • With herb, spice, or sugared coatings such as orange, lemon, vanilla, etc.

Fresh hazelnuts are fantastic raw with their slightly sweet taste, creamy texture, and crunch. Toasted, they change to the nutty taste and crisp crunch that we have come to expect. 

Blanching removes the skins from the nuts. Heating for about 10 minutes at  150 °C will separate the skins from the nuts. Rubbing them in a clean dishtowel will remove them. 

Roasting causes the hazelnut to take on a more smoky and robust flavour. Its texture becomes crisp and crunchy. Spread the hazelnuts onto a shallow baking pan and toast in the oven at 275oC for about 20 minutes or until the nut meat turns light golden and their skins crack. Do not over cook.

Hazelnut flour is gluten free and usually used along with white flour, in baking, rather than by itself. Use it anyplace where the nutty flavour of hazelnuts is wanted. In biscuits, muffins and breads chopped hazelnuts go well with the hazelnut flour. To use hazelnut flour in an existing recipe, replace about ¼ of the plain flour with hazelnut flour. If using self rising flour, add a teaspoon of baking powder to each cup of hazelnut flour.

Hazelnut oil is cold pressed from fresh hazelnuts and is 100% pure oil. There should be no additives and no chemicals should be used to separate the oil.  The following table shows how Hazelnut oil compares with three other oils that are commonly used. The percentages are “approximates only” and can vary within oils due to a large variety of considerations, such as differing plant cultivars, types of soils, etc.  

Type of oilSaturated fatsMono-unsaturated fatsPoly-unsaturated fats
Olive oil17%74%9%
Peanut oil17%46%32%
Corn oil13%24%59%
Hazelnut oil5%85%10%

Hazelnut oil has a relatively high flash point and keeps its sweet, nutty taste well. It has a shelf life of about a year in the cupboard. It can be used anyplace that olive oil is used and is excellent in baking, over vegetables, or on its own with bread or Dukkah. 

Hazelnut oil is also one of the best carrier oils used for massage. It works deeply into the skin and has many positive characteristics. It contains: vitamins, minerals, proteins, oleic and linoleic acid.  It is slightly astringent, toning, and is quickly absorbed. It is useful as a base for oily, combination skins, or acne. It tones and tightens skin; helps maintain firmness and elasticity, and helps to strengthen capillaries. It also encourages cell regeneration and stimulates circulation. 

In conclusion, hazelnuts are nutritional giants. They are a good source of protein and monounsaturated fats as well as being high in fiber, Vitamin E and minerals. Vitamin E is thought to inhibit some forms of cancer and guard against heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and cataracts. Hazelnuts are also a good source of Vitamin B-6, magnesium, protein, zinc, selenium and copper. Nearly all the fiber in hazelnuts is insoluble, which has been linked to lower cholesterol levels.