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The arrival of autumn signals a welcome glut of wild foods; berries, game, mushrooms, fish and nuts all help to provide satisfying meals for the changing season. As the tree leaves begin to change to their unmistakable autumn colour so the harvesting of nuts begins. By the end of September hazelnuts will have ripened enough to be picked and cracked from their green outer husk.

Fresh Hazelnuts
Hazel can be found throughout the British Isles, growing up to twelve feet in height they are most commonly found in woodland and hedgerows. Finding the tree is easy enough but beating the birds and squirrels to the fruits is another matter.

Hazelnuts are useful in both sweet and savoury dishes, they are excellent in bread mixes, folded through meringues or made into a compound butter for flavouring grilled fish or vegetables. I have also used them crushed as a garnish for risotto with new season wild mushrooms to good effect.

Content and picture Miles Collins