Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hazelnuts for Your Health

Nuts, in general, and hazelnuts, in particular, are very healthy foods. Hazelnuts rank at or near the top of many of the important health categories. They're rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, iron, calcium, vitamins E and B, folate, and arginine. Hazelnuts, like other tree nuts, contain no cholesterol. More than 80% of the total fat in hazelnuts is mono-unsaturated.

In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a health claim that links nut consumption to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Hazelnuts have not reached their potential in the U.S. in production or consumption. With wider, sustainable production, they could become a healthy addition to America’s diet.

The charts below compare 1 ounce of hazelnuts to other nuts.



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hazelnuts are Environmentally Friendly

Our research has shown that hybrid hazelnuts can provide numerous environmental benefits, making them attractive CRP plants, windbreaks, hedges or riparian buffers.

  • Hazelnuts sequester carbon. Compared to annual crops, the extensive root systems of perennial crops help build and increase organic soil matter, sequestering more carbon from the atmosphere each year.
  • Hazelnuts have a longer period of photosynthetic activity than annual crops. Because the full leaf canopy is present in hazelnuts from early spring to late fall (unlike annual crops), there is significantly more time for photosynthesis and subsequent fixation of carbon dioxide. With annual crops, canopy closure doesn’t happen until summer and bare soil does not photosynthesize and fix carbon dioxide.
  • With higher annual carbon sequestration, growers may receive a higher payment through carbon aggregate programs than they receive for annual crops.
  • Hazelnut plants provide great wildlife habitat and nutrition. Wildlife known to benefit from hazelnut plants include deer, wild turkeys, woodpeckers, squirrels, pheasants, quail and grouse.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hazelnut Harvest Begins in Nebraska

We began harvesting hybrid hazelnuts today on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s East Campus. Troy Pabst, forestry property manager with the Nebraska Forest Service, said the harvest is 7-10 days early this year due to the drought. The hazelnut plants survived the hot, dry summer, but the nuts are much smaller this year, he said. The harvest is expected to take a couple of weeks.

Developing hybrid hazels that can survive in harsh weather and produce commercial-quality nuts is one of the major challenges facing the Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium partners. This summer has been an excellent test for the current crop of hazelnut plants.

The drought has intensified over parts of the central U.S., according to the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and the area in Nebraska where Consortium hazelnuts are being grown is in extreme drought.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Healthy Summer Recipes

Here are some easy, healthy summer recipes from the Hazelnut Growers of Oregon.

Hazelnut and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto 
  • 2 cups sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup romano cheese
Put tomatoes, garlic and olive oil in food processor and blend until smooth. Add hazelnuts and cheese, process to the consistency you prefer, smooth or slightly chunky. Season to taste. Allow 1/4 cup pesto per serving. Good on pasta, vegetables, rice, potatoes, soup, and seafood.  

Hazelnut Sun-Dried Tomato Spread
Pulse 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts (skins removed), 1/4 cup fresh parsley, 1/2 cup drained sun-dried tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of their oil in food processor until coarsely chopped. Place in a medium bowl and stir in 1 cup (8 oz.) cream cheese, 1/4 cup currants, and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes until just blended. Cover and refrigerate. Makes 16 servings (2 cups).

Hazelnut Pesto Spread
Pulse 2 cups packed fresh basil, 1 cup toasted hazelnuts (skins removed), 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup each olive oil and lemon juice and 2 cloves garlic in food processor until blended. Cover and refrigerate. Makes 12 servings (1 1/2 cups).

Hazelnut Hummus
Puree one can (16 oz.) garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed), 3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts (skins removed), 1/4 cup fresh parsley, 1/4 cup each lemon juice and olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in food processor until blended. Cover and refrigerate. Makes 16 servings (2 cups).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Meet the Partners: Nebraska Forest Service 
& the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The Nebraska Forest Service and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) have been conducting research on hazelnuts for 10 years, focusing on yield, oil yield, cold hardiness, drought resistance and bioenergy. In addition to plant research, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has developed mechanical equipment for harvesting hazelnuts.

Through an array of strategic initiatives and partnerships, the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS) fosters tree- and forest-based economic development across the state. It has worked on numerous extension and outreach programs to educate farmers and other agricultural professionals about hybrid hazelnuts.

Above & below: Thousands of hybrid hazelnuts are
 being tested at Horning Farm in Nebraska.

NFS is doing the majority of field testing for hazelnut cultivars produced through Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium breeding efforts at Rutgers and Oregon State. Thousands of hazelnuts are planted at NFS’s Horning State Farm Demonstration Forest near Plattsmouth, Nebr., and on UNL’s East Campus, where they’re being studied for resistance to eastern filbert blight and their ability to survive in extreme weather. 

Tests at UNL have shown that hazelnut oil's characteristics make
it an excellent candidate for biodiesel and other oleochemicals.  

The Industrial Agricultural Products Center at UNL has analyzed hybrid hazelnut oil as part of its work with the Consortium. The analysis has yielded some interesting findings: 
  • An average hazelnut produces nearly twice the amount of oil per acre as soybeans.
  • The physical/chemical characteristics of hazelnuts for biodiesel are substantially superior to soybean oil.
  • The percentage of oil per hazelnut kernel ranges from 56.1% to 75.2%.
  • Hazelnut oil has a unique fatty acid composition, thermal stability and low temperature properties that should increase its value over soybean oil for a number of applications.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hazelnuts as Feedstock

Hybrid hazelnuts can produce nearly twice the amount of oil per acre as soybeans, and the oil's physical and chemical properties make it substantially superior to soybean oil for culinary use and biodiesel fuel production. 

A largely unexplored, yet promising, opportunity exists with the byproduct created when oil is extracted from hazelnuts. A high-quality protein meal remains that can be used for livestock feed.

Adopting hazelnuts as a feedstock crop would increase overall crop diversity for growers, reducing their risk while promoting integrated, environmentally friendly production systems.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hazelnuts Are Drought Resistant

We’re sweltering in triple-digit heat in the Midwest today. We’ve had no measureable rainfall in weeks and the extremely hot, dry conditions are expected to continue through next week. Annual crops are under considerable stress, which points to one of the significant reasons we think hybrid hazelnuts hold promise for Midwest growers.

Hazelnuts use less water and are drought resistant. Massive root systems allow the perennial plants to avoid short-term droughts that adversely affect annual crops. Tests in Nebraska have shown that hazelnuts can be a staple dry-land crop. If irrigation is needed, drip or trickle irrigation can be used with hazelnuts which greatly increases water efficiency and helps conserve this vital resource.