Cob nuts or hazelnuts are commonplace at this time of year along the leafy lanes of Dartmoor. If the squirrels have not got to them already then the odds are that those are left behind are empty in their shells. However if you strike lucky you will have found an amazing food. This nut would have been a staple food for our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Nuts were an extremely important survival food giving huge quantities of the necessary calories and rich in fats, carbs and proteins with a whole range of useful vitamins and minerals – useful for the impending onset of winter.
But don’t just shell them and eat them. You can make a delicious nut milk and also make cookies with the leftovers.
Here is a step-by-step guide:
Shell the nuts and crush them finely with a pestle and mortar. The finer and more granular the better. Although cheating (a bit!) you can more effectively get them to a fine grit by using a blender.
Add water (a litre/quart per 100g of shelled nuts or less water if you want a richer milk). Mix and macerate. If the grind is quite course then leaving it to soak for several hours in a corked/stoppered bottle that you can vigorously shake occasionally may be your best option. The result will probably be a grey-brown milk liquid.
Strain through muslin and you will be left with a lovely, slightly off white milk. You can sweeten with honey or a birch/maple syrup if you like.
Don’t throw away the remaining solid matter. Make sure it is thoroughly squeezed out and not too moist. Then add a knob of hard fat (lard, dripping, butter) and a good dollop of honey, maple syrup or in this instance some home-made birch syrup.
Mix, shape into thin cookies and cook in a dutch oven, over the campfire, or in your kitchen until golden brown.
The result of all that shelling is a delicious bedtime glass of milk and a couple of cookies.
Disclaimer – This article is NOT telling you to go out and eat wild plants without proper instruction! DO NOT use this article as a guide as to what is safe for you or others to eat. Learn from other sources and know absolutely (110%) what you are picking and consuming and what affect it might have on you and others – before you go off and test your knowledge! The author accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions in this article. Eating wild plants is entirely at your own risk. Just because I have eaten them and/or they are mentioned in this article does not mean that they are safe for anyone to eat. Do not feed wild plants to other people without taking the necessary precautions.