There are so many Turkish hazelnuts showering down onto Berlin’s streets and sidewalks these days, I just don’t know how I overlooked them before reading Berlin Plants’ informative hazelnut article. Now I see them everywhere!
After gathering this scant handful of small nuts there a few weeks ago, I went back to Belforter Str. near the LPG Biomarkt in Prenzlauer Berg last week to look for more nuts and was richly rewarded for my efforts. Hundreds more nuts, many much larger than the ones I’d found before, covered the ground, some still in their brambly brown hulls. It was really satisfying to take a seat on the sidewalk and coax the nuts out of the hulls and into my bag.
Looking at Belforter Str. on Google Maps, I was shocked to see that in the Google satellite image world, the whole block is still a huge open space with bushes, trees and dirt paths. It’s now completely filled with a brand-new, probably very expensive apartment building, complete with chichi shoe and clothing stores. I know that Berlin can’t stay half-empty and wild forever, but it does make me sad that this open space, and all the plants there, were lost.
At least we still have the street trees, like the Turkish hazel. At home, I put my loot into a big soup bowl:
We then did a taste test, comparing the Turkish hazel (which is used as an ornamental and not for food) to some common hazelnuts harvested last year by a friend from his tree. The freshly foraged nuts did taste inferior, a bit green and not very fragrant or nutty. But we are going to give them the benefit of the doubt and not assume that it’s the species that’s inferior. Perhaps hazelnuts, like walnuts, benefit from resting a few months before being eaten – so that’s what we’re going to try.
If you’d like to forage for Turkish hazel, today I noticed that Richard-Sorge-Str. in Friedrichshain is also completely lined with them. Or if you live elsewhere, what are you harvesting or foraging this fall?