I LOVE hazelnuts! So much so, that way back in 2007, when I discovered that hazelnut trees were being propagated in the Megalong Valley, I organised a community bulk buy of bare-rooted trees. I could see their value in increasing food security in the Blue Mountains. They’re a source of protein, monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, manganese and numerous other essential nutrients … and they’re wind, not insect-pollinated.
The Mountains now has a distributed hazelnut orchard of over 400 trees that are over 14 years old. The only trouble is, cockatoos have learnt to LOVE them too.
The English have a similar problem, but they’re competing for hazelnuts with squirrels not cockatoos. In the Megalong, even foxes climb the trees to eat them, and hazelnuts are one of my dog Charlie’s favourite snacks too. He’s learnt to crack them open to reach the nut inside. We have to dodge hazelnut shells like some people dodge lego blocks all over the floor.
What I’ve now learnt to do is see the arrival of cockatoos as an indicator that it’s urgently time to harvest. This means, however, harvesting them green.
I was delighted on the 1st February when I bought Katoomba author Teya Brooks Pribac’s new vegan cookbook. It had a recipe for making vegan cheese using cashews, but over the last couple of days I decided to try the recipe with our green hazelnuts.
What a hit! Tonight we sampled it in a tasting plate with freshly baked sourdough and herb crackers, beetroot hummus, lettuce, chargrilled zucchinis and spring onions, and slow-fried beans, broccoli and snowpeas. All the nuts and veggies were #MountainsGrown!
Last weekend Teya did a vegan cheese-making workshop, but I found her recipe was also very simple to follow. I’m more motivated then ever to beat the cockatoos to next year’s crop.
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