In recent weeks, I have become reobsessed with Nutella which prompted me purchase a bag of hazelnuts (aka filberts) which had their skins intact. One of the recipes that I was playing around with called for peeled hazelnuts, but I figured they would be a cinch to remove – however, I quickly realized that was not the case. Hazelnut skins are stubborn – mighty stubborn.
Since picking papery peels off of 1 cup of hazelnuts sounded less than awesome, I did a little research and decided to use the roast and rub method. Essentially you roast the hazelnuts at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the nuts have darkened a bit and you can smell the nutty goodness wafting through your kitchen. Next, you place the hot nuts into a slightly dampened kitchen towel and rub the skins off using the towel. Apparently the combination of moisture and heat helps to loosen the skins. Well, this worked – sort of.
After rubbing and rubbing and rubbing, many of the hazelnuts were still flecked with pieces of brown skin which pretty much annoyed the heck out of me. I knew there had to be a better way. Again, I turned to Google and happened to stumble upon a method from Alice Medrich.
Basically you boil the hazelnuts in baking soda and water for a few minutes then immerse them in cold water before you peel the skins away. This technique enabled my perfectionist self to easily remove every single piece of hazelnut skin with ease! Now don’t get me wrong, this is still a bit of process, so don’t expect the skins to magically disappear, but I will tell you it works like a charm and is actually kind of fun!
Alice Medrich demonstrated this method to Julia Child while making Hazelnut Biscotti – you catch the entire process and Julia’s reaction to this method by watching the YouTube video below.
January 25th, 2012
How To Peel Hazelnuts
2 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons baking soda
1 cup hazelnuts
1. In a medium saucepan with high sides, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 3 tablespoons of baking soda to the water – the water will foam up.
2. Add the nuts to the boiling water and boil for about 3 minutes. The water will turn black – don’t be alarmed. While the hazelnuts are boiling, prepare a medium bowl of ice cold water. After three minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove one test nut, placing the nut into the prepared bowl of ice water. Use your fingers to remove the skin, if the skin doesn’t come off easily, boil the nuts 1-2 minutes longer and try another test nut.
3. When a test skin rubs right off, add the rest of the nuts to the ice water and peel them with ease.
4. Place peeled nuts into a kitchen towel or paper towels and dry them thoroughly.
5. If desired, toast the peeled and dried hazelnuts at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes - trust me it's so worth it!
Method from Alice Medrich