How to peel hazelnuts

Removing the skin of hazelnuts is an exhausting task when it’s more than just a handful, but it can be done three different ways. While working on a cooking show this year, I was faced with the task of peeling a quart of hazelnuts. It became My Mount Everest so to speak in the cooking world. Ok, maybe not really Mt. Everest, but alas it was a pretty big task. 

My editor Stephen from Traditional Home Magazine would always say use Hazelnuts when you are creating something special, because otherwise they’re too much work. I do agree with the amount of work, but hazelnuts are one of my absolute favorite nut. They are delicious in salads, desserts, simply toasted, and of course, I love the flavor in coffee. 

The three ways of peeling nuts are lightly roasting them, boiling them, and peeling, or in my case we did all three at one time!

How to roast:

Roasting is simple but be careful not to leave them alone because they can quickly become over roasted and too brown. If you are looking for a toasted hazelnut then over roasting will be less of a concern, however if you are roasting merely to remove the skin, be careful!   Turn the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and lay the nuts on a light-colored aluminum cookie sheet. cook the nuts in the oven for 2-3 minutes and then rotate, taking note of the looseness of the skin as you rotate the pan. When the skin begins to shed from the nut, quickly place the hazelnuts in a dish towel and rub them without crushing them. The skin should peel off and sadly it won’t remove all of the skin, but it will remove most.

How to boil: 

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add the nuts into the boiling water and allow the nuts to cook for 2-3 minutes. Use a sieve and remove the nuts from the water and place onto a dish towel. Dry thoroughly and then transfer them all too a dry dish towel. Fold one end of the towel of the dried boiled nuts and rub the skin off of the nut. Repeat if necessary.

How to peel: 

If you are going the peeling route first you will place the nuts into a towel and fold the towel over the nuts. Use a firm hand on top of the towel to rub the skin off of the hazelnut. Once you loosen the skin, use a paring knife to scrape the peel off of the hazelnut.

How to use the combination: 

For the best results you might try roasting or boiling with peeling. The heat will loosen the skin and which will make it easier to remove remaining skin with a paring knife.

More questions:

Will there be skin I can’t remove?

Yes, a few will be pristine, but the majority will have bits of skin left over.

What if I don’t want to remove the skin?

The skin feels like little bits of paper shards in your mouth. They aren’t bad for you, but they don’t taste great. 

How long will this take: 

It depends on how much you’re trying to peel. If it’s a handful it will take about 15 minutes. In the case of peeling a quart, I kid you not it took 4 hours of three different people working at it during various times of the workday. 

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