When I moved to Oregon, one of the first things I noticed were all the nuts...hazelnuts that is. They're everywhere! While I had never really paid them any mind before, I soon realized what a tasty local food resource was available here. After all those hazelnuts fall to the ground in the hazelnut orchards, the farmers come through with their tractors and scoop up as much as they can for harvesting, but there are still quite a few left behind. This makes for an excellent gleaning opportunity.
A couple of weeks ago I went out to Dorris Ranch, a local living history hazelnut farm and park. They had just finished the harvest in time for the Haunted Hayride, and the roads were lined with hundreds of jack-o-lanterns in preparation for the event. It was just as stunning to see all those bright orange pumpkins lining the road in the daylight as it is at night when they're all aglow. It definitely added some cheer to my rainy morning harvesting.
A couple of hours spent gathering the nuts in the rain yielded a couple of good sized baskets full. I took them home and washed them really well since they were muddy and this orchard isn't managed using organic methods. Ideally, I would like to find an organic hazelnut farm to glean from with the farmer's permission, but I'm still working on that.
I will be spending many cold, rainy days cracking hazelnuts by the warm, toasty woodstove this winter. The really lovely thing about them is I can just let them sit as long as I need to until I have time to get to them.
Nuts are not demanding, and that's why I love them so.