Hazelnut over time
Hazelnuts come from the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, particularly regions that have a relatively mild winter and cool summer. This climate is typical of the seaside. In fact, it is also on the seaside where the main crops of hazelnuts are located: Turkey (Black Sea), Spain and France (Atlantic Ocean) and Oregon in the United States (Pacific Ocean).
There are several species of hazel, two of which are commercially important: the common hazel (C. avellana) and the hazel (C. colurna). Domestication dates back to the prehistoric period. In fact, hazel comes from the Turks or other people of Asia Minor. The Romans introduce the varieties of C. avellana throughout the empire. However, we have to still wait for the seventeenth or eighteenth century before they are produced on a large scale in Europe.
The bulk of world production is provided by Turkey (about 75%), followed by Italy (15%). The United States are far behind, with only 5% of production, which is fully concentrated in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. In order to extend the hazelnut crop area, United States and Canadian researchers have been working for decades on the creation of hybrids. They want to create a tree that produces large fruits of cultivated species of Eurasia, while supporting cold weather and native species of North America.
The hazelnut is available in stores and are sold in-shell or peeled, or in powder form. However, almost 97% of world production goes to the processing industry (confectionery, pastry, oil).
Hazelnut milk: generous and gluten free!
Hazelnut milk and chestnut milk are to be classified in the category of milk called “plants”. This is an important point meaning that these milks can be used as an alternative to cow’s milk, goat milk or sheep milk for vegans.
Such milk powder is often used in desserts and for other sweet dishes. However, they can also simply drink it, just like cow’s milk. Hazelnut milk is deemed as the most expensive milk. With its sweet taste, hazelnut milk is a pleasure for gourmets, but also for children who have difficulty digesting the traditional cow’s milk. The proteins contained in these milks are more digestible proteins than those in animal milk.
The benefits of hazelnut milk
Hazelnut milk is especially beneficial for people with lactose intolerance and allergic to gluten. Hazelnut milk contains a good amount of calcium and phosphorus, making it an ideal food to offer children and adolescents in their growing period. Hazelnut milk is rich in:
- Essential fatty acids (used to build the body’s cells)
- Vitamins A, B, and E (Vitamin A is especially known for its beneficial actions at the view and the development of bones and skin, vitamin B improves the immune and nervous system, vitamin E is an antioxidant and plays an important role in neutralizing free radicals)
- Dietary fiber (83% insoluble and 17% soluble)
The hazelnut is also a source of folate. Folate (vitamin B9) is involved in the manufacture of all body cells, including red blood cells. This vitamin plays an essential role in the production of genetic material (DNA, RNA), in the functioning of the nervous system and immune system, as well as in the healing of wounds and sores. As it is necessary for the production of new cells, an adequate intake is essential during periods of growth and development of the fetus.
With these nutritional qualities, hazelnut milk is an excellent supplement in the daily diet. It can help in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. It also reduces cholesterol and is great in the fight against constipation thanks to its high fiber content. Hazelnut milk is particularly interesting for people with lactose intolerance and allergic to gluten.
Hazelnut milk is also known to be an antioxidant, which helps limit the production of free radicals that can have a devastating effect on the body’s cells.
Hazelnut milk for health
Because of its antioxidant properties, hazelnut milk is recommended for people with high cholesterol1. In addition, several studies tend to show that antioxidants, consumed in adequate amounts, could help reduce the risk of cancers.
Hazelnuts are also a source of fiber (60% insoluble fiber to 40% soluble). Remember, an adequate intake of dietary fiber has the positive effect on the body to limit the risk of colon cancer.
Due to its high content of L-Arginine, an amino acid, hazelnut milk could also prevent spoilage of the arteries, as well as the formation of blood clots. Struggling against cholesterol, hazelnut milk could also prevent arteriosclerosis and several heart problems.
Pregnant women and hazelnut milk
Hazelnut milk is particularly rich in folic acid. However, several English studies have shown that a low intake of folic acid during pregnancy may cause hyperactivity in children.
On the contrary, a good intake of folic acid could prevent the risk of malformation in the fetus. Hazelnut milk is therefore particularly recommended for pregnant women.
How to make homemade hazelnut milk?
For 1 litre of fresh hazelnut milk
- 1 litre of fresh water
- 180 g of hazelnuts
- 1 tsp of vanilla
- A pinch of salt
- Soak the hazelnuts in cold water 4 to 6 hours in advance.
- Rinse them well. They will have doubled in size.
- Add them in your blender with water, vanilla and salt.
- Mix 1 to 3 minutes, stopping the blender from time to time if necessary. You get a froth hazelnut milk that you have to filter using a nut milk bag or a tight-weave cloth.
- Once all the mixture is filtered, place the resulting chestnut pulp in the nut milk bag and press in order to get as much milk as possible.
- You have a delicious hazelnut milk!
As hazelnuts are already sweet, you don’t have to add another sweetener. For a taste of plant milk that resembles more closely those from the supermarket, you can add 1 or 2 dates and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of agave or maple syrup. You can use the hazelnut pulp for other recipes.
You can enjoy your hazelnut milk or, if you wish, add cocoa powder to make a delicious chocolate hazelnut drink!
- Durak I, Köksal I, Kaçmaz M, Büyükkoçak S, Cimen BM, Oztürk HS. Hazelnut supplementation enhances plasma antioxidant potential and lowers plasma cholesterol levels. Clin Chim Acta. 1999 Jun 15;284(1):113-5.