Cobnuts - What are Cobnuts?

Cobnut
Beck / Flickr / CC By 2.0

Every autumn beautiful, unusual small nuts appear in the British larder. They are not dissimilar to a hazelnut, but should not be mistaken for them; the Cobnut is a nut in its own right. They are super-delicious fresh but  can also be dried and eaten later in the season. They are sweet and when fresh have a coconut-like flavour.

What is a Cobnut?

Cobnuts, filberts, hazelnuts are all varieties of the Corylus family.

They grow in Britain and can be found fresh from early autumn, or dried and processed for using year round.

Cobnuts are very distinctive in their pretty, downy cover which, when fresh, is easy to remove as is the shell of the young nut. Once they begin to dry the shell toughens yet will still only need a sharp tap to break. When young, the green cobnuts have a taste very similar to coconut and as they mature and become golden, they are much sweeter and juicier. They are also delicious to eat fresh from the shell when young; once a little older use them to eat or cook as with hazelnuts.

Where Do Cobnuts Come From?

Cobnuts come mainly from Kent in southern England where they were introduced in the 19th century, hence they are often commonly known as a  Kentish Cobnuts.

What Varieties of Cobnuts Are There?

  • Purple Filbert
  • Merveille de Bollwiller (also called Hall's Giant)
  • Kentish Cob
  • Butler
  • Ennis

What Can I Use Cobnuts For?

Think hazlenuts and substitute ripe cobnuts and away you go.

Always chop cobnuts at the last minute, they go stale if chopped too soon.

Suggestions for Cooking and Eating Cobnuts

Any recipe which calls for hazlenuts will work. You can eat Cobnuts chopped into salads, on their own, in a streusel topping, or a crumble. Crumble Cobnuts into a meringue mixture or use in a pesto sauce and a lovely alternative to pine nuts or even replace almonds in a classic macaron recipe.

Cobnuts are an exciting and alternative ingredient to use in your cooking. They are also delicious to simply eat like any other nut.

Are Cobnuts Healthy?

Yes, they most certainly are. Cobnut kernels typically contain 12% - 17% protein by dry weight, and about 10%- 15% fibre. They are very rich in vitamin E and in calcium, typically containing about 21mg and 141mg per 100g kernel (dry weight). They provide about 0.4mg and 0.55mg of vitamins B1 and B6 respectively per 100g dry weight (source, UK Cobnuts).

Alternate Spellings: Kentish Cobnuts, filberts, hazlenuts