This year I've been focusing more on finding places to forage food than I have in the past, and, being in Oregon, I've been finding tons of hazelnuts.
The ones pictured above I found in a local park, and I filled a shopping bag with them. Now I'm focused on getting them ready to eat.
Both my mom and Nonna have an allergy to the raw nuts. After looking into it more, my mom found out that hazelnuts contain phytic acid, just like many other seeds (including wheat), which prevents them from being digested, as well as irritating and causing inflammation in the digestive tract, and can impair the absorption of minerals such as iron and zinc. To combat this, I am soaking all of the unshelled nuts in a salted water solution overnight, and then we will roast them tomorrow and hope for the best.
While shelling nuts earlier, I noticed that there was a noticeable size difference between the bits I'd collected in the park, and a handful of nuts I'd collected down the street. After researching it, I discovered that the smaller ones I'd collected down the street were most likely from American hazelnut trees, and that the larger ones I'd collected in the park were either European or a hybrid American x European hazelnut. I wasn't aware that there were different varieties of hazelnut trees, although it makes sense. I guess you learn something new every day.
Fingers crossed that this experiment will work out.