Irish Nuts - In Season

Hazelnut TreeAlthough collecting wild hazelnuts from hedgerows was a common activity in Ireland until recently (and has perhaps seen a resurgence due to the current popularity of all kinds of foraging), commercial nut growing has never been a significant aspect of Irish food production. Happily there are experts out there who see this as a missed opportunity and it looks as if things are on the change.

The Irish Nut Growers Association, for example, is dedicated to promoting nut growing in Ireland, saying “… the perception that nut crops cannot succeed in Ireland is false. The right varieties, grown in fertile soil in appropriate locations, and properly tended, can be expected to produce good crops most years.”

Certain varieties of hazelnut (cobnut), chestnut and walnut seem most likely to succeed, although other less well known nuts also have potential.

Hells Kettle HazelnutsFruit and Nut, a specialist supplier of fruit and nut trees at The Sustainability Institute in Co Mayo is in agreement, and not only supplies cultivars suitable for Irish conditions but also offers a consultancy service and horticultural workshops on a wide range of topics, including nut production.

Although a number of garden centres carry limited stocks of trees, The Irish Nut Growers Association says very few have expert knowledge; in addition to Fruit and Nut, they suggest Woodkerne Nursery in West Cork for anyone who is serious about fruit and nut production.

An encouraging number of people in Ireland have invested in nut orchards in recent years, including the Lynch family of Hell’s Kettle Farm (087 990 1104) at Donard, Co Wicklow. They have farmed beside Hell's Kettle river for generations, but their range of produce is innovative - beef is a core product (butchered on site by Pat Lynch, who is a qualified butcher), but they also have bronze turkeys and grow fruit and nuts in a ‘forest garden’.

Gavin & Linda LynchGavin Lynch and his partner Linda are the latest generation to work the farm and they’re rightly proud of the four acres of hazelnuts that have just produced their first harvest. “We've been busily husking, cracking, roasting and sampling here for the past couple of weeks and we are wicked impressed, particularly with the roasted nuts which are little balls of deliciousness,” says Gavin.

Buy directly (Online Shop and farm shop) and at the Castleruddery Organic Farm stall at Naas farmers market.

Wild Hazelnut Chocolate Chip BiscuitsRECIPE: Wild Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Biscuits

From ‘Wild Food’ by Biddy White Lennon and Evan Doyle, this is one of the recipes from The Strawberry Tree organic restaurant at BrookLodge Hotel, Co Wicklow.

100g wild hazelnuts, shelled
100g orgnic sugar
185g organic butter
1 organic egg
165g organic flour
175g organic 70% dark chocolate, chopped to crumb
A scant tsp sea salt


Roast hazelnuts in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 170°C. Remove and place in a damp clean tea towel and rub hazelnuts together to remove skins and then finely chop the de-skinned hazelnuts.

Cream the butter and sugar together, add the egg and continue mixing. Add in the sieved flour, salt, and mix until well combined. Fold in the wild hazelnuts and crumbed chocolate. Place mixture in cling film and leave in fridge for 10 minutes.


Divide mixture into 30g portions and roll into balls and flatten on to parchment paper on an oven tray, with space to spread. Bake at 150'C for 15 minutes approx. Remove, and cool. Yields about 28 biscuits.


Is a taste of autumn with the wild hazelnuts and, besides, it makes for a really good excuse to have a chocolate chip biscuit.

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