Nuts to You

28 12 2007

After reading Michael Pollan’s essay about the symbiotic relationship between beekeepers and almond growers, I knew I had to rethink my relationship with almonds. I love almonds, but I can’t love them with as much abandon since I now know that it’s dependent on the bee equivalent of a CAFO. I’ve certainly made it a point to seek out local honey from beekeepers that don’t truck their bees around, but I only knew half of it. Gosh, I hope there’s not too much more to know.

Since almonds don’t grow in this climate, I did need to find our local nuts anyway. All I had for information was that there was a nut orchard just west of Mount Vernon. As nut harvest approached (October-ish around here), I heard that the orchardist had passed away, but his wife was to open the orchards for U-pick. We couldn’t get it together in time and we missed that opportunity. I hope that she will continue next year or someone will take up the reins. I promise that I’ll buy bushels of nuts next year!

Of course, that is all the information that I have. West of Mount Vernon, perhaps on Avon Allen or Barrett or Kamb?, and that there were walnuts, hazelnuts and chestnuts(!!). I just remember the nut sign along Memorial Highway when I used to drive to work in Mount Vernon from Anacortes, but that was over a decade ago. Anyone know?

Meanwhile, we still need nuts.

Cascade Walnuts Walnuts

The co-op carries walnuts and chestnuts in the shell from Cascade Walnut of Loomis, Washington. The walnuts are the most delicious I’ve ever tasted. I try not to do too much product reviewing, but they have some fine nuts. The chestnuts are superior to the ones that we bought last year which came from Italy. I’ve not been able to find any information about this grower so I may have to do a drive-by this summer. We love touring the old ghost towns of that area, but I digress …

We do have a large local nut grower and somehow I never noticed them until I found some lovely hazelnut wine at Samson Estates Winery. They get all their nuts for the wine from Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards up by the border. I had wanted to do a personal visit in November, but we were late for another visit and it had to be missed. I’m pretty sure that I scared my other half by stating that I had my eye on a 25# box of nuts! I’ll be by there later. πŸ˜‰

Meanwhile, did you know that you could make wine from nuts? I certainly didn’t! I knew all about liqueurs, but a wonderful dessert wine that tasted of the pure essence of hazelnut? I was in heaven and we promptly bought a box to give away as Christmas presents. That, dear reader, is why you haven’t read about nuts in a timely fashion. And now you have next year’s Christmas taken care of. My gift to you. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, over there on the newly minted Skagit Cooks, there will be some nut recipes. Until I get them posted, a few have been chosen and photographed already, visit the links for recipes at Holmquist and the Hazelnut Council. Way to announce and not be ready. πŸ™‚




5 responses

1 01 2008
Joanna of Seven Trees

That hazelnut wine is incredible!! Liquid gold, and a wonderful dessert sipper. Thanks you two!!

Hazelnuts are labor intensive. We got many pounds from our neighbor’s trees, and they need to be shelled, blanched, skinned, and toasted before use. And on top of that, once they are processed, they go stale quickly. But still worth the effort!

1 01 2008
Urban Hennery » Blog Archive » Dark Days Challenge - Weeks 10 & 11 Recap and Review

[…] rejoins us with some great information about local nuts and what to do with them (the eating kind of course). She also announced the launch of her […]

3 01 2008
Steve Lospalluto

The u pick nut farm is the Balser family who are located on Donnelly Road, first road south of the Memorial Hwy that runs between Avon-Allen Rd. and Beavermarsh Rd. The orchard is about midway down the road on the south side, fairly close to Riversong Farm, a CSA run by Christie Stein.And yes, Don Balser did pass away, they were open for picking this past year.
I do like toasted hazelnuts also. But we simply dry the nuts we collect from the yard; shell some ; toast in the oven for awhile; take them out and rub off the inner peel with a towel ; toast a little more. It’s not perfect but it cuts down on prep a little.

3 01 2008
Steve Lospalluto

Hi again. I just checked out your Skagit Cooks.Looks like it will be good, though I’m not the cook in our house (and she doesn’t spend much time on line). I assume that your foods in season for the month list (a pretty good one) is intended to include what people can purchase? In addition to the foods you have listed, we still are eating lettuce, mache, arugula,radicchio,chard,savoy cabbage,boc choy,broccoli raab,fennel,out of the garden and kiwis in the cooler.

4 01 2008

Thanks! (I just got my internet connection back reliably so I can respond.)
Joanna: You’re most welcome! I don’t bother with the skinning, but I also mostly just buy them pre-toasted from the bulk bin at the co-op. πŸ˜€
Steve: Thanks for the information on the nut farm! The snow just melted off the garden so I plan on trotting out to see what’s out there (raab, possibly). The list is meant to be what is at its peak or locally available with some California augmentation. I’m planning on mache next season!

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