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I would pick them now,store in a cool dry place,eat one from time to time. if I leave them on the tree til they are ready the birds and squrrels get them all
 

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Hazelnut/filberts harvest is always a race and contest. It's you against the squirrels! :haha: The nuts are actually not ripe until they open and fall from the tree. You need to wait until they do fall and then rush out and pick them up ahead of the squirrels. Once you have them retrieved, spread them out in a dry place (we put them on a screen on our enclosed back porch) and let them dry for at least a week. Then they can be cracked.

You should also roast them prior to storage for 2 reasons. One, to aid in removing the bitter outter brown covering, and secondly, to improve flavor and storage ability (they will turn rancid quickly if not roasted). Just spread them out in a roasting pan, cookie sheet, etc. in a single layer and roast them in a 275° for 15-20 minutes -- turning occassionally. Watch them carefully because they will burn quickly. You want them to be just barely turning coloring and have a fresh roasted nut smell. They take them out of the oven and dump them on a towel and rub the nuts vigerously with the towel to remove the brown skin. Let cool and store. We put ours in ziplock bags and store in the freezer. They will keep a year or more in the freezer.

By the way, most people think filberts are the same as hazelnuts; however, filberts are actually a larger variety of hazelnuts. Since there are over 100 varieties of hazelnuts/filberts, and since they all seem to look mostly alike to me, I've never been able to tell which variety we have.

Nothing has done well in the garden this summer with it being such a cool and wet summer, but for some reason we have a bumper hazelnut crop! We've been kidding that we have our own olympics going on with trying to beat the squirrels to the nuts, but this year, I think there just might be enough for both of us from our 4 trees. Also FYI, hazelnuts are selling for around $7.50-$9.00 a lb. right now! I might just try to find a market to sell them this year since I have a bunch left from last year and don't need all these from this year.
 
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