Davebilt bulk nutcracker

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.

Cracking hazelnuts

1+ lb of nuts, a handful of uncracked nuts, and 1.5+ lb shells. Half an hour to crack and separate.

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.

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12 Comments

  1. jocelmeow said,

    January 23, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Let me know how it works on pecans. Our next-door neighbors came back from visiting a friend of the husband’s from graduate school bearing grocery bags full of pecans, one of which we have. We bought a pretty nice $30 nutcracker from Lehmans.com. It works okay, but it shoots shell bits everywhere and the pecans are still tough to get out of the shell. I don’t think I’d buy a $150 tool for the amount we have, but it might be worth it to our neighbors if they’re planning on visiting those folks repeatedly.

  2. Suzie said,

    January 23, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Awesome!

    • Emily said,

      January 24, 2011 at 10:18 am

      Do chestnuts crack, or do they have to be peeled?

  3. Ken said,

    January 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Cool! And I ❤ hazelnuts…

    do you think it might work on chestnuts too? i've got a friend who's in the market for a chestnut cracking solution.

  4. Tammy Coxen said,

    January 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Do you think it would work on hickory nuts? I have some locally foraged ones sitting in my basement I need to do something with…

    • Emily said,

      January 24, 2011 at 10:19 am

      I think hickory nut shells are too thick.

  5. January 24, 2011 at 7:30 am

    Cool! I have two hazels already and plan to get another two this year. The ones we have aren’t yet producing, but should within a couple of years. So glad to have an advanced recommendation for how to deal with the crop. I would love to hear what you end up doing with the nuts. It seems obvious that a food with the nutritional profile of hazelnuts should be able to play a significant role in our diet. I’m just not sure how to do that. These days nuts seem to go mostly into desserts.

    Also, any good uses for those shells? Are they acidic? Mulch for the blueberries?

    • Emily said,

      January 24, 2011 at 10:20 am

      Hazelnut shells burn ok, but that’s all I know at this point. I’m sure they’d compost, too.

  6. December 16, 2012 at 9:34 am

    […] more robust than the “nut bowl” nutcracker I inherited from my grandma. The Davebilt nutcracker also works very well. Separating the nut meats from the shells also goes quickly, and is facilitated […]

  7. Anonymous said,

    August 24, 2016 at 2:04 am

    I do not find a place to look at prices or plans to build it?


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