Apparently the heavenly revelry of Oregon’s praised state nut, the hazelnut, dates back to before Nutella hit the shelves. Back all the way to ancient China, where manuscripts tell of the hazelnut—or “filbert,” its precedent French-infused name—being counted among five blessed sources of sustenance which God graced upon humanity. The old filbert was used medicinally as well by at least one Greek doctor over 1,800 years ago—compare with modern-day Rogaine or cough syrup.
The hazelnut absorbed its popularized name, inspired by the nut’s color during late stages of maturation, in 1981, just eight years before being designated Oregon’s state nut in 1989. Oregon now produces 99% of all commercial hazelnuts from the U.S. and around 800 Oregon families and 45,000 acres are reserved for crops. Production brings in an average $70 million annually for Oregon.
Closest to Corvallis is Maley Road Hazelnuts, with over 100 acres across Booneville slew. Maley Road has been in operation for over 31 years. The farm has been passed on through generations, who, as they say on their Facebook page, “made the irreversible decision to continue the tradition of dragging [their] families through weekends of wet, muddy work… all for a nut.”
Hazelnut trees can shell out for over 80 years, and uniquely, breed and bloom in winter, mature in summer, then are harvested in autumn, all before finding their ways into choice coffees and chocolates. Hazelnuts are protein-rich and a source of trendy unsaturated fats. Hipsters be advised: swap that basic butter in your coffee for some hazel spread.
High in fiber, magnesium, and copper, hazelnuts help healthy bone growth and iron absorption. Their nutrients can aid in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood clots, depression, and neural tube birth defects.
So, here’s to hazelnuts, for being the best family jewels Oregon has to dish out.
By Stevie Beisswanger