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I live in the Mid-Atlantic area and have terrible luck buying raw hazelnuts/filberts in the store. They are often bitter and/or old-tasting, very expensive, and you'd never want to eat them raw.

Last fall, my dad shared some hazelnuts a West Virginia woman gave him straight from her trees as a thank you. It was like eating a completely different nut: chewy, sweet, no aftertaste. These weren't the wild variety, sometimes called "beaked"; they looked exactly like what I buy in the store, just a little smaller. I've read that commercial "raw" hazelnuts may have to be pasteurized before sale. Could this be affecting the flavor of the store-bought nuts? Anyone got a better source than roaming the West Virginia hills (as lovely as that sounds)? My chocolate hazelnut biscotti and I thank you :)

CLARIFICATION (based on the kind and thorough replies to date): The store-bought hazelnuts are often bitter even after I remove the skins, and I'd like to avoid roasting and/or peeling. (I want to make some raw hazelnut flour for a pastry crust, for example.) I will look for the DuChilly variety, however, and welcome thoughts on other varietals. Thank you!

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Are you getting the skin off thoroughly before eating them? It is bitter. –  SAJ14SAJ Nov 6 '13 at 12:43
    
I buy hazelnuts in the bulk aisle of my local grocery store. I find the skins bitter, but once peeled and toasted they are lovely. This is a technique made well known by a guest on Julia Child's baking show. The video is really well done, just be sure to close the stupid ad, it obscures the subtitles of the video. Peeling Hazelnuts After asking about it here, I toasted my first batch of nuts by drying them out at 200F and then cranking up to 350F. I stirred probably overly frequently, but the result was awesome. –  Jolenealaska Nov 16 '13 at 6:39
    
There are hazelnuts that aren't completely nasty tasting? I just assumed it was like beer or cilantro, where I hate the stuff, but other people love it. –  Joe Nov 29 '13 at 20:03

1 Answer 1

As a horticulturalist, I can tell you there are many varieties of hazelnut (also called cob or filbert). We eat ours in England without ever removing the skins, because they're mostly kentish cob nuts - these are sometimes sold 'in the green' but more usually as a mature nut. The skin may be slightly bitter, but it is not noticeable and it is not necessary to remove the skin. Other varieties have thicker skins and are more noticeably bitter, and will need the skins removed. So, in other words, when you buy your hazelnuts, it's likely you're buying a variety which has a thicker, bitter skin, whereas the ones collected from the tree in West Virginia were a different variety. One available and widely grown in parts of America which is not bitter is 'DuChilly' - it has a more elongated shape than most hazelnuts and is usually called a filbert.

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