I had great plans for this week’s post.
I wanted to cover winter tubers which are great for foraging this late in the year. Unfortunately here in the mid-Atlantic we suffered from yet more rain this week. (While California burns, and then turns to mudslides in the rain… Remind me again how climate change isn’t “really” a thing?)
But I digress. Since localized flooding is occurring, I cannot dig up the roots this week. Heck, I can’t even find the plants in all the mud and silt and runoff. So instead, I will talk about a strategy for dealing with foraging disappointment: instead of hunting for the forage, bringing the forage to the hunter.
Meet Thelma and Jeff, my new hazelnuts (Corylus americana)!
(Sorry the photo is so blurry – my smart phone struggles to focus on objects that small!)
They are both cultivars of the American hazelnut: Thelma is a “Theta”, and Jeff is a “Jefferson”.
While American hazelnuts grow wild in this area, I have failed to find any in central MD. The last time I saw wild hazelnuts was last year, in West Virginia, while property hunting. I didn’t know what they were at the time, but the plant’s features were so striking I took pictures for future identification.
Now I know what they were, and I’m very sorry not to have found any since.
Have I mentioned I LOVE hazelnuts?
Ultimately, I hope to use hazelnut flour to replace almond flour in my non-grain recipes, because I worry about the environmental impacts of almond cultivation in California, where most of the commercial almond crop is produced. Not so concerned that I would go back to eating grains, mind you, because of the severe pain they cause my body; but concerned enough to try growing or foraging my own replacement with a crop native to this area.
Unfortunately, hazelnuts can take several years to start producing, and Thelma and Jeff were much smaller than I thought they would be. I have never ordered a tree or shrub from a catalog before, and while I knew they wouldn’t be full grown it didn’t really dawn on me that they would be, well, almost invisible to the naked eye.
I mean, seriously. If I hadn’t told you there were hazelnut shrubs in the wire cages in this photo, you would never have noticed them there.
Since it will take a while (maybe a long while) for these little guys to produce, my days of hunting wild hazelnuts are not over yet! Maybe I’ll find something next year … 2019 or bust!