I fell in love with hazelnuts at my coworker’s catered wedding a few years ago. These scrumptious little nuts were served on top of a spinach salad alongside freshly sliced nectarines and a raspberry vinaigrette. Heavenly! Ever since, I’ve been a huge fan. Hazelnuts on salads, hazelnuts in baked goods, hazelnuts in that all too famous chocolate-y spread...they’re all amazing thanks to the sweet and buttery flavor profile of the hazelnut.
So, naturally, when I heard that Hazel Blue Acres, a family-owned farm in Arlington was open for you-pick hazelnuts I marked my calendar and began the countdown.
Now, here is where you too, can mark your calendar because there are just FOUR DAYS remaining in the you-pick season:
- Saturday, September 22nd from 9am - 5pm
- Tuesday, September 25th from 9am - 5pm
- Friday, September 28 from 9am - 5pm
- Saturday, September 29 from 9am - 5pm
Hazel Blue Acres is most known for their WSDA Certified Organic Blueberries, but come late summer and early fall, the farm switches gears thanks to hazelnut season. At just $3/pound, you-pick hazelnuts are a treat not to be missed.
Upon arriving, you’ll wind past the large white barn and pass a field of baby hazelnut trees. Those ones are just 1 1/2 years old and not yet producing hazelnuts, but, beyond them, you’ll see the mature hazelnuts trees brimming with nuts.
Near the mature trees, you’ll park and most likely be greeted by Karen Fuentes. She and her husband, Spencer, own and operate Hazel Blue Acres and if you’re new to hazelnut harvesting, like I was, she’ll give you all the information and supplies you need. Then, off you go!
I should mention, hazelnut picking is more like hazelnut gathering. Hazelnuts grow in a hull on the trees and when the nuts are ripe, they drop to the ground. So, ripe hazelnuts are found at the base of each tree. This makes hazelnut picking perfect for children no need to reach high! And, us adults get a nice quad workout as we squat to fill our buckets!
While you gather, make sure to pause and listen, you’ll hear the quiet thunk of hazelnuts falling, especially if the wind picks up or if a rambunctious child bumps a tree trunk. The deeper you get into the hazelnut orchard, the more you’ll hear. It’s such a unique sound, and now, after our afternoon of hazelnut gathering, one I cherish.
Crouched underneath the trees, gathering with my four children, I couldn’t help but soak in the beauty of each hazelnut tree. They aren’t large or uniform, but their rustic nature creates such an amazing fruit - it was honestly an honor to be there participating in such an easy, delicious harvest. I hope you get to experience it too. Even if the weather is dreary, you’ll find shelter under the large branches while you gather. Definitely don’t let the weather keep you away from a hazelnut adventure!
Hazel Blue Acres accepts cards and will happily tempt you with goodies from the summer blueberry harvest (like blueberry spread and syrup) as well as Lopez Island Creamery ice cream when you checkout with your bounty of hazelnuts. You better believe I told my children that if they filled their buckets we could share ice cream. And, let me tell you, the blueberry and chocolate hazelnut ice cream were the perfect treat as a reward for our hazelnut picking efforts!
Karen will send you home with instructions for washing, drying, and properly storing your hazelnuts. She also has printouts of amazing recipes - sweet Hazelnut Caramel Bars and Chocolate Hazelnut Bars as well as a savory Hot and Sugary Roasted Hazelnuts with Rosemary and Cayenne. My 15 pounds of hazelnuts are currently drying on the kitchen counter, and tomorrow I can’t wait to crack some and try out a new recipe, or, perhaps, remake that spinach salad that initially made me fall in love with hazelnuts.