16 Oct 2017

Nuts for nuts

From Nine To Noon, 11:32 am on 16 October 2017

Newly picked nuts are the way to go, say Marlborough nut grower Jenny Horwell and food writer Jan Bilton.

Jenny Horwell runs Uncle Joe's with her husband Malcolm.

When the couple bought a 54-acre block of land in Marlborough it came with two old walnut trees over 100ft high.

They started out by selling the walnuts to a man in Nelson who had a hand cracker and a real Uncle Joe that he used to crack nuts with.

Later, he sold them the hand cracker and the Horwells branched out into hazelnut trees.

Now they sell a range of nut and seed products, from cold-pressed oils and nut meal to nut flour.

Nut trees don't need a lot of care, but patience is required - hazelnuts take about 7 years to grow, almonds 10 and walnuts 12 to 15.

While harvest times are really busy, growing nuts is a good 'slow' industry, Jenny says.

For freshness and flavour, nut products made from New Zealand-grown are far superior, Jan Bilton says.

She recommends stirring nut paste through pasta as a sauce and using nut flours in cakes.

Note, though, that nut flours are very dense so you'd usually combine them with other sorts of flour.

If you're using a nut flour by itself in a cake throw in an extra egg or two, Jan says.

To de-skin hazelnuts, Jan's prefered method is to give them a couple of minutes in the microwave then either shake them in a sieve or roll them in a heavy tea towel until the skins fall off.

You can also bake them in the oven for 5 minutes at 180 degrees until the skins go golden and can flake off.


Orange Walnut Cake
Hazelnut Chicken

This Sunday (22 October) is National Nut Day.