The hazelnut tree (Corylus avellana) is a plant from Asia Minor belonging to the Betulaceae family. Its spreading in Sicily and the Nebrodi mountain area intensified, especially starting in the 1800’s and in fact replaced mulberry-tree cultivation. It has a low yield but a quality product with respect to other hazelnuts from other parts of Italy and other countries.
The seed (the true hazelnut) is enclosed in a woody shell, which in turn is covered by a green membrane.The hazelnut tree is a decidedly hardy plant even though it is attacked by fungi and insects as almost all plants. Proof of its vigour lies in its millennial longevity. It begins blooming in July.
Hazelnuts finish ripening in the period from the second half of August to the first two weeks in September.
Weeds are cut manually, and trimming and harvesting are also done by hand. Once picked, the hazelnuts are cleaned in specific cleaners that use air flows to separate the fruit from any pebbles, soil, leaves or branches. These clean hazelnuts then undergo the drying phase. The hazelnuts, which enlarge in hung nets or on simple floors, dry naturally thanks to the combined action of the wind and sun.
It’s a good idea to purchase shelled hazelnuts in airtight or sealed packages. This ensures product freshness.
Unfortunately the Sicilian product still hasn’t been valorised due to the lack of initiative in this sector and therefore a lack the required on-the-spot processing machinery so it can be marketed and distributed.