The hazelnut, the edible seeds of the hazel, is within the top 5 most consumed tree nuts. Their favorite climate is characterized by a mild summer and cool winter, that is why Iranian hazelnuts are among the highest quality and tastiest hazelnuts. They’re harvested in September and are usually available throughout the year.
Hazelnuts are sweet nutritious kernels, with a round to oval shape. They are encased in a smooth, hard brown shell, which crack when ripe. The kernels are light cream in color with a thin brown edible peel on them. The texture of hazelnuts is as creamy as the taste. They’re smooth with a nice crunch.
Hazelnuts are marketed both as in-shell and shelled. the minimum size is 12 mm in diameter for in-shell hazelnut and 9 mm in diameter for shelled hazelnut. (Extra Class and Class I).
Hazelnuts are consumed as the whole nut and as a snack in raw, roasted, salted, blanched or with skin and other forms. In addition, they are used as an ingredient in many recipes, especially desserts.
The nutritional and sensory properties of hazelnuts make them a unique and ideal ingredient for various food products such as chocolates, snacks, cereals, bakery and dairy products, salads, sauces, ice creams and desserts. They are widely used in the bakery industry: turned into hazelnut paste, cream, chocolate, shavings and flour for various applications. For the confectionary industry, hazelnuts are presented in various forms, e.g. diced, ground or as a paste. Also, they are used in Beverages industry to make liqueurs and hazelnut-based drinks.
Hazelnut oil is becoming popular these days. It is being used for cooking, salad dressings and flavoring ingredients, to add an intense, nutty flavor to dressings and baking. Hazelnut oil also is part of the formulation of cosmetic products, it works well in hair and skincare products, thanks to its high vitamin E content. Some examples are skin oils, shampoos and creams.
In-shell Hazelnuts may be kept for approx. 12 months at temperatures of -3 – 0°C (cold storage) and a relative humidity of 65 – 70% and Hazelnut kernels, on the other hand, may be kept for just a few weeks at temperatures of 2 – 8°C and approx. 65% relative humidity.