Can You Eat Turkish Hazelnuts? A Comprehensive Guide

Have you ever stumbled upon a tree with strange-looking husks on the ground and wondered if the nuts inside were edible?

That’s exactly what happened to us when we discovered Turkish Hazelnuts while walking in Prenzlauerberg.

These slow-growing trees are prized for their dense, pyramidal crown and are highly resistant to disease and pests, making them a popular choice for urban environments.

But what about the nuts they produce? Are they worth harvesting and eating?

In this article, we’ll explore the culinary potential of Turkish Hazelnuts and share a delicious recipe for Turkish Hazelnut Pesto.

So, let’s crack open some nuts and find out if they’re worth the effort!

Can You Eat Turkish Hazelnuts

Yes, you can eat Turkish Hazelnuts! These nuts are edible and have a mild, distinctive flavor. They are smaller and harder than the more well-known Common Hazel nuts, but still have culinary merit of their own.

Turkish Hazelnuts are produced in large beaked husks that are popular with wildlife. The nuts appear in September and October, and if you’re lucky enough to find a tree, you can harvest them for your own use.

While Common Hazel nuts have a tendency to sucker and are susceptible to disease, Turkish Hazelnuts are highly resistant to disease and pests, making them a great choice for urban environments.

So, if you come across a Turkish Hazel tree, don’t hesitate to try the nuts inside. They may be smaller, but they’re still delicious!

The History And Cultivation Of Turkish Hazelnuts

Turkish Hazelnuts, also known as Corylus colurna, are slow-growing, pyramidal-shaped shade trees that can grow up to 40 to 50 feet in height. They are native to southeastern Europe and western Asia, and have been cultivated for centuries for their nuts.

The cultivation of Turkish Hazelnuts dates back to ancient times, with evidence of their use found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. They were also highly prized by the Greeks and Romans, who used them in a variety of dishes and believed that they had medicinal properties.

In modern times, Turkey is the largest producer of hazelnuts in the world, with Turkish Hazelnuts accounting for a significant portion of their crop. The nuts are used in a variety of products, including Nutella and Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

Turkish Hazelnuts are highly valued for their dense, pyramidal crown and fine form, making them a popular choice for formal landscapes. They are also well-suited for urban environments due to their resistance to disease and pests.

Nutritional Value And Health Benefits Of Turkish Hazelnuts

Turkish Hazelnuts are not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients that are beneficial for your health. These nuts are a rich source of vitamins B, C, and E, as well as minerals like potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron.

One ounce (28 grams) of Turkish Hazelnuts contains 176 calories, 17 grams of total fat, 4.2 grams of protein, 4.7 grams of carbs, and 2.7 grams of fiber. They also provide 21% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin E, 12% of thiamin and magnesium RDI, 24% of copper RDI, and a whopping 87% of manganese RDI.

Turkish Hazelnuts are also a rich source of mono- and polyunsaturated fats and contain a good amount of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids like oleic acid. These healthy fats can help improve heart health by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Moreover, Turkish Hazelnuts have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce cancer risk and improve brain function. They contain phenolic compounds that help reduce cholesterol and inflammation in the body, promoting heart health. Additionally, they have proanthocyanidins that can help prevent and treat certain types of cancer.

Turkish Hazelnuts are also good for digestion, boost immunity, and strengthen bones due to their high mineral content. However, people allergic to hazelnuts should avoid them to prevent anaphylaxis.

How To Harvest And Prepare Turkish Hazelnuts For Consumption

Harvesting Turkish Hazelnuts for consumption is a fun and rewarding activity. Here’s how to do it:

1. Find a Turkish Hazel tree: These trees are commonly used as street trees in cities, so keep an eye out for them in your local area. They can also be found in parks and other green spaces.

2. Wait for the nuts to ripen: Turkish Hazelnuts are ready to harvest when the beaked husk starts to split open and the nut inside is brown and hard.

3. Gather the nuts: Once the nuts are ripe, you can gather them by picking them off the tree or by collecting them from the ground.

4. Remove the husk: Turkish Hazelnuts have a thick, hard husk that needs to be removed before eating. You can do this by cracking the husk open with your fingers or using a nutcracker.

5. Clean the nuts: After removing the husk, wash the nuts thoroughly with water to remove any dirt or debris.

6. Dry the nuts: Place the cleaned nuts on a tray or baking sheet and leave them in a warm, dry place for a few days to dry out. This will help to preserve them and make them easier to crack open.

7. Crack open the nuts: Once the nuts are dry, you can crack them open using a nutcracker or a hammer. Be careful not to crush the nut inside.

8. Enjoy your Turkish Hazelnuts: You can eat Turkish Hazelnuts raw or roasted. They have a mild, nutty flavor and can be used in a variety of recipes, such as pesto, nut butter, or baked goods.

Exploring The Culinary Potential Of Turkish Hazelnuts

Turkish Hazelnuts are not only tasty, but they also offer a range of culinary possibilities. These nuts can be eaten by themselves as a snack, or combined with dark chocolate for a sweet treat. They are also a great addition to baked goods, adding a nutty flavor and crunch.

For breakfast, try sprinkling Turkish Hazelnuts over plant-based yogurt or stirring them into your oatmeal. You can also add them as a topping to your smoothie bowl for an extra boost of protein and flavor.

In savory dishes, Turkish Hazelnuts can be blended into sauces and dips, similar to cashews and almonds. They also make a great addition to salads and pasta dishes, adding a crunchy texture and nutty flavor. During the holidays, consider adding them to side dishes like green bean casserole or stuffing for an extra layer of flavor.

If you’re a fan of granola or trail mix, Turkish Hazelnuts make a perfect addition to those concoctions as well. Their small size and unique flavor make them a versatile ingredient in many recipes.

Although Turkey used to produce 80% of the world’s hazelnuts, their production limit has been reached and other countries are stepping up their production. However, Turkish Hazelnuts are still highly sought after for their exceptional flavor and high nutritional value. So, next time you come across Turkish Hazelnuts, don’t hesitate to explore their culinary potential in your favorite recipes!

Recipe: Turkish Hazelnut Pesto

If you’re looking for a delicious way to use Turkish Hazelnuts, try making this flavorful pesto!


– 1/3 cup Turkish Hazelnuts

– 2 cups fresh basil leaves

– 3 garlic cloves, minced

– 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

– 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese (parmesan can be used as a substitute)

– Salt and pepper to taste


1. Begin by placing the hazelnuts and garlic in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse a few times until finely minced.

2. Add in the lemon juice and pulse a couple of times to mellow out the harsh garlic flavor.

3. Add the basil leaves and puree while slowly pouring the oil through the feed tube until combined. Scrape down the sides as needed.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, pulsing to combine.

5. To store, place in an airtight container with plastic wrap directly on top of the pesto. It can be kept at room temperature for up to four hours, refrigerated for up to two days (remove from refrigerator one hour before serving), or frozen for up to two months.

This pesto is perfect for pasta dishes, as a spread on sandwiches or crostini, or even as a dip for vegetables. The unique flavor of Turkish Hazelnuts adds an extra dimension of nuttiness to this classic recipe. Give it a try and enjoy the taste of foraged food!

Conclusion: Are Turkish Hazelnuts Worth Eating?

In conclusion, Turkish Hazelnuts are definitely worth eating. Not only do they have a mild and distinctive flavor, but they also come with a host of health benefits. Hazelnuts are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidant bioactive substances, which have been associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease events. They are also a good source of essential nutrients like fiber, thiamin, magnesium, copper, carbohydrates, and protein.

In addition to their culinary and health benefits, Turkish Hazelnuts are also environmentally friendly. They are highly resistant to disease and pests, making them a great choice for urban environments.

So the next time you come across a Turkish Hazelnut tree, don’t hesitate to try the nuts inside. Whether you eat them raw or cooked, Turkish Hazelnuts are a delicious and nutritious snack that you won’t regret trying.

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