Saturday, 13 September 2014

Zero Waste is not just for Zero Waste week, and Angry Squirrels.

Zero Waste Week 2014 is over, and we discovered that, although we didn't succeed in our 'NO snacky food packaging at all' pledge, we reduced it, and it's really not that difficult. Lunch boxes and in-between meal times shouldn't be all about over-packaged goodies. And too much sweet stuff is not a good thing anyway, either. All in all, the kick up the backside delivered by Zero Waste Week was very welcome.

So the attempts at zero waste continue. At the moment we have simply the very best zero waste snack dropping out of the sky onto our front drive. And dropping onto the road. And our car. And the alley next door to our house. And just about everywhere. The hazel trees in our hedge have produced an abundant crop this year. We've been enjoying them and other small hazelnut lovers (that is, lovers of small hazelnuts) have been enjoying them too. A neighbour has collected some especially to go in her Christmas pudding, and Daughter's friend, who calls for her every morning, arrived yesterday brandishing nutcrackers so she could enjoy a handful on the way to school. 

The smallest small hazelnut lover is a poor squirrel, however, who arrives annually to collect some of nature's bounty. He or she has been most frustrated to find that two cats have come to live here since last year, and spent a couple of days making angry squirrel noises at them from the top of the hedge in an unsuccessful attempt to shoo them away, before leaving in disgust.



As well as eating them neat, (the hazelnuts, not the squirrels) we have so, so many that we have been wondering what else we can do with them.



Son was immediately on the case, researching his favourite option. So much for less sugary snacks...



We have learnt that cracking enough hazelnuts to make 250g of shelled hazelnuts takes a very long time. Although we have a lot of hazelnuts in their shells, once they're cracked maybe we won't have quite so many. The nutella mixing was almost too much for our poor wand blender stick thingy which was making sounds worthy of the dentist's surgery. We used much less sugar (as a gesture towards our new healthy snack regime) and had to forego the vanilla extract because we didn't have any, but a rather delicious, rich, Ferrero Rocher, dark chocolate truffly type concoction emerged after all the hours of effort.



It's like a golden nectar that shouldn't be guzzled all at once, so we carefully froze a couple of small bowlfuls as well as leaving one out for consumption. (I have no idea if you can freeze freshly made nutella but we shall find out). The unfrozen bowl is supposed to be eaten within three weeks but I don't think there's much chance of it hanging around that long.





Ooh, and we also learnt that when you're cracking hazelnuts the shells get everywhere. I even found some in my bed (which is nowhere near the kitchen) this morning.

All ideas for things to do with an abundance of hazelnuts gratefully received!

10 comments:

  1. I tried making chocolate hazelnut spread too, after reading 'Pre-cycled'. I resorted to smashing the hazelnuts with a rolling pin, but then you still have to pick out all the shells. I did wonder if maybe the shells would float and nuts would sink, but I haven't tried it yet. The choc spread tasted yummy, but I couldn't get it to a smooth consistency.

    My friend has a fantastic nut-cracker in the shape of a squirrel. pop the nut in its mouth and crank the tail to break the shell. I think it was from the Jamie Oliver collection. It makes nut-cracking more fun and at least you could pretend the squirrel was getting its share of the nuts ;-)

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    1. Our nutella is nothing like the consistency of real nutella either, and much more cocoa-y. We got into quite a production line with the nutcracking - it's much faster if one person cracks and another gets the nuts out of their shells!

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  2. As soon as you said hazel nuts, I was thinking Nutella. I'm glad you made some so I can imagine it through you.

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    1. As long as you're imagining something that doesn't taste anything like nutella, you're fine! Much nuttier and bittier and bitterier.

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  3. You could make hazelnut butter - so yummy! I haven't made it before, but I have roasted hazelnuts - it took about 15mins (turn / stir them every 5 mins to stop them burning). Once they have cooled - blitz them in a food processor until they become the right texture . ( I have made peanut butter before and it goes through a powdery stage before it gets to peanut butter texture, so I imagine it is probably similar).

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    1. Hazelnut butter would be a good idea, just not sure our stick blender could take any more hazelnut blitzing...I really miss a food processor for the nut blitzing but in the interests of less plug-in kitchen appliances we're resisting the temptation.

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  4. Dukkah? There's an article and a recipe here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/10240680/A-Z-of-unusual-ingredients-dukkah.html but you could mix together whatever you fancy.
    Claudia Roden quotes a book from 1860 as listing a mix of salt, pepper, za'atar (trendy but easy to make) or wild marjoram or mint or cumin with one or more from the list of coriander seed, cinnamon, sesame or chickpeas (pre-cooked and dried) and apparently in Egypt they sell dried mint, salt and pepper as dukkah. If you have any mint or marjoram (or oregano) in the garden you could have homegrown dukkah! Incidentally I grew coriander (from seed) a couple of years ago and still have a large jar of coriander seed in my cupboard, so that's an option for next years mixture!

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    1. Funny that - I have just got Hugh F-W's River Cottage Everyday out of the library and there's a recipe for dukkah in there too. Definitely a possibility. Nice to have a hazel nut recommendation from a Hazel...

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  5. I've picked 10lbs of hazelnuts so far this year :) I'm planning some salted caramel hazelnut brittle and some homemade nut roasts. Hazelnut butter sounds good too :)

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    1. 10lbs - that's excellent! I'd planned a nut roast for Sunday but couldn't face any more nut cracking...

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