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The agricultural potential of hazelnuts

Hazelnut oilI started this adventure merely searching for a tasty hazelnut to plant in the understory of my forest garden, but the researchers who produced the hydrid hazel have loftier ambitions.  They figure hazels can produce food for people, a new cash crop for farmers, a high protein feed for livestock, and an efficient way to make biofuel.  The scientists even promise that planting woody hazels instead of the usual annual vegetable crops will help combat global warming.

I'm most intrigued by the potential to produce hazelnut oil.  As long-time readers probably know, we've been interested in the idea of making our own cooking oil for a while.  We had settled on sunflowers as the easiest crop to turn into oil on our farm, but now I'm starting to wonder if hazelnuts wouldn't be easier.  Hazelnuts have the definite advantage over sunflowers of being perennials which need less care after the initial planting.  And even though deer and squirrels love hazelnuts, birds are less attracted to them than to sunflowers --- our sunflower crop this year went into the bellies of birds.

Producing our own oil is a long term goal which will require several steps, but it wouldn't hurt to start growing hazels as a potential source of oil.  After all, hazelnut oil has a nearly identical nutritional makeup compared to the healthy olive oil.

This post is part of our Hybrid Hazelnut lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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