If you’re into permaculture in the US, I bet you’ve planted hazelnut bushes. Great understory crop – tasty nuts – hardy and fairly disease- and pest-resistant. Have you started harvesting any yet? Have you started cracking any yet? If you’re like me, you probably are looking at shrubs just starting to produce and thinking “What on earth am I going to do with all those hazelnuts? Hell…how am I gonna get them out of the shells??”
So I’ve been looking for a high-quality nutcracker that cracks more than one nut at a time, and I think I finally found it. (You can buy it here or here or if you’re in New Zealand, try this version.) First, you set the width of the plates using a selection of washers of varying thicknesses (included). When the space is just barely too tight to allow a nut to fall through, you’ve got the right size of opening. You pour nuts into the hopper and turn (or really, “rock”) the handle. It’ll take hazelnuts, pecans, English walnuts, almonds, and apparently also acorns.
It arrived recently, and I just put it through its paces with 2.75 lb of Oregon filberts that were a gift from a friend. These were probably size-graded nuts; I can’t imagine anything straight from the tree would be this uniform. If more than a handful had dropped through whole, I could reset the machine to a narrower setting and run them through – but for this tiny pile, I’d just do them by hand.
The final result: a little over a pound (quart) of clean, mostly whole nutmeats cracked in around 5-7 minutes, and separated from their shells over the next 15-20. I was able to set the machine up, crack the nuts, and separate shells from nuts in half an hour.
Things I learned:
- It’s loud!
- It works really well when the nuts are dry enough to rattle inside the shells. See the individual nut between the bowls – there is space between the nut and shell, which allows for a clean crack.
- The nuts aren’t crushed at all. A few split in half.
- A couple shell shards went flying, but the vast majority just dropped into the bucket with the nuts.
- The thing is built like a tank. I’m not worried it’s going to fall apart before I do.
- Now I can buy cheap bulk nuts in Nov/Dec and actually get enough nuts to use in recipes. Pecans are next on my list, to go in my new pumpkin-pecan-pie-waffles.
- Definitely better than cracking them by hand.
This is the kind of thing each neighborhood needs one of. You could do your whole harvest in an afternoon, or use it once a month to get a month’s supply of cracked nuts…and then let someone else use it.
Here’s a video of the nutcracker in action. Warning – LOUD.