Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Aug 12, 2013 03:02 AM

Removing skin from hazelnuts - HELP!

I tried baking them and then rubbing the skins off, per the directions in the bread recipe (Hamelman). Didn't work all that well. Looked online and found several recipes (including here) for boiling nuts in water and baking soda. I had a lot of nuts, so I used 8 cups water and 3/4 cup baking soda. Should have used a bigger pot. Foamed up and boiled over.

BUT, the skins slipped right off. Formed a mess of slippery shreds of skin that were the devil to clean off the nuts.

I tried soaking the mess in water; perhaps the skins would float to the top. NOPE.

I tried cleaning them off with my fingers. My hands were soon covered with clinging shreds of skin, which transferred back to the nuts.

I got a towel and tried wiping either the nuts or my hands on the towel. The towel was soon covered with clinging shreds of skin, which transferred back to the nuts.

I shook the dang towel onto the floor and went back to work, again and again. I was soon sitting in the middle of a mess of skins. It had taken me an hour to clean one cup of nuts.

I have given up for the night. Washed everything, swept and wiped the floor, and put the remaining nuts (still covered with shreds of wet skin) on a sheet pan. I'm hoping that they will dry out overnight and the skins will fall away rather than clinging damply.

This can't be the way that they process the nuts commercially. ADVICE - HELP - PLEASE.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Just guessing here, but nuts processed commercially probably use machines to abrade the skins off the nuts, something not really viable for home cooks.

    The baking soda/boiling water method works really well for me. But then I don't usually do more than two cups of nuts at one time. After testing one nut to be sure the skin slips off easily (i.e. they have boiled long enough), I dump them into a sieve and use running water to slip the skins off the nuts. Yes, you pretty much have to handle the nuts one at a time and yes, the skins are kind of gloopy and stick to your fingers. Running water is the key to get the skins off the nuts and off your skin.

    Otherwise, just roast the nuts at 350 degrees F for ten to fifteen minutes, dump the hot nuts onto a clean tea towel, bundle the towel to enclose the hazelnuts and rub the towel against the nuts and the nuts against each other. Rub some more. Let them cool, then rub some more. Still, I end up having to handle each nut individually to remove as much skin as possible. Sometimes the skin is stubborn and cannot be removed completely, which just has to be accepted with the toasting method.

    Really, the baking soda/water method works best to remove all the skin, but in either method it is a lot of trouble. Consequently, some people don't bother to remove the skins at all. It really is only necessary for aesthetics, I haven't found leaving the skins on affects flavor all that much.

    1. I use the boiling water/baking soda method and think it works like a charm. And I'm usually doing at least a cup of nuts at a time. Yes, it foams up; you just have to know that that's going to happen and adjust accordingly. As I'm separating the nuts from the skins, under cool running water as janniecooks suggests, I remove the nuts to a kitchen towel and then give them a quick rub with the towel before toasting them in the oven. I doubt the process takes more than 10 minutes once the water is boiling and I always end up with a contained mess of skins in the bottom of the colander. Maybe it's just that I've done it so often I hardly think about it any more. Perhaps now that you know what to expect it will go more smoothly for you the second time around?

      1. What are you making with the hazelnuts? Do you really need peel off all the skins?

        The baking soda method works really well, but I found the nuts to be soggy and bland, even after roasting.

        The method I use is from the Oregon Hazelnut board. Slow roast for about 20 minutes. You'll get a majority of the skins off, but it's a lot of work to skin the nuts completely. In other words, if you can live with some skins on the nuts, I would recommend the slow roasting method.

        3 Replies
        1. re: dave_c

          I find that pistachios lose their flavor when boiled, but not hazelnuts. Perhaps you're boiling them for longer than necessary? I toast them in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes and they're crisp and flavorful.

          I also find the skin on hazelnuts very bitter and prefer to remove as much of it as possible. For me, at least, it's not just a question of aesthetics; it's a question of taste.

          1. re: dave_c

            I also think that the boiling took a lot of flavor out of the nuts. Dangnabit.

            The nuts are mostly dry now, but I am still having to process one nut at a time, scraping off skin with my thumbnail. At least the scrapings don't cling to my fingers.

            1. re: dave_c

              Oh, and I'm making the fig and hazelnut sourdough bread from Hamelman's bread book.