October is a great time to be eating nuts because it’s the month when nut crops are at their best. If you don’t already own one, now is also the perfect time to order nut trees to plant over winter so you can have a crop for next year. As well as providing invaluable shelter and food for wildlife in the colder parts of the year, a nut tree will give you a new ingredient to experiment with in the kitchen. Another bonus, is that nuts store extremely well so you can enjoy your crop all year. Here we offer a little advice on choosing the right nut tree for your garden and a recipe idea for using the more unusual cobnut to make a delicious breakfast granola.
Choosing nut trees for the garden
The most reliable croppers are walnuts, chestnuts and hazelnuts, and you’ll find planty of choice and the Agroforestry Research Trust, including the Japanese walnut, called the heart nut because its nuts are heart shaped in cross section. For smaller gardens, hazelnuts or cobnuts are best. They can grow as individual open trees for increased nut harvest or as useful sheltering hedges. For an edible but ornamental garden plant, ‘Red Filbert’ is a fast growing, heavy cropper with reddish-bronze leaves, or ‘Kentish Cob’ is another good cropper, with medium-sized nuts. Pollination of hazelnut trees is not that straightforward so be sure to plant at least two cultivars that are compatible pollinators.
For a seasonal breakfast try using cobnuts in the recipe below for granola with dried, white mulberries. If you don’t have your own crop, many farmers’ markets sell them at this time of year – or you can use hazelnuts as an alternative.
Cobnut and mulberry granola
- 50g cobnuts (weigh when shelled)
- 500g jumbo porridge oats
- 3tbsp golden syrup
- 200ml date syrup
- 30g linseeds
- 30g pumpkin seeds
- 50g dried white mulberries
- 50g currants
- 4tbsp vegetable oil
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4.
- Crack the cobnuts and spread them out on a baking tray. Roast until dark brown in colour and smelling pleasantly nutty (about 15 minutes).
- Pour into a clean tea towel and rub to get rid of as much skin as you can.
- Chop roughly then put the cobnuts into a large mixing bowl with the oats, syrups, seeds, salt and oil. Stir with a spatula until the oats are evenly coated so no dry patches remain.
- Line a baking tray with parchment and spread the mixture out evenly. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, stirring the mixture gently after 10 minutes (I use a chopstick) so the outer edges do not cook too quickly.
- When crisp enough, turn the oven off and leave the granola to dry in the oven as it cools.
- When cool roll the parchment over the granola and press down to break into pieces, mix in the dried fruits and store in an airtight jar. Eat with milk for breakfast or as a topping for yoghurt and fruit.
Words Jojo Tulloh
Illustration Sarah Young