Would you believe what I just learned last Sunday; we have hazel nuts growing here in Finland! They are seriously growing wild right here in the area where I have lived nearly all of my life, but no one ever told me nuts can survive in the rough Finnish climate. I have always assumed nuts require much more exotic environment to be able to produce fruits.
In Finnish language the word ‘hasselpähkinä’ a.k.a ‘hazel nut’ is most often used for the edible seed of the fruit that hazel tree produces. The tree itself is actually called a bush, ‘European nut bush’, if I translated it word by word. I just love Finnish language.
Do you know what I love even more? Nuts!
So, I learned all this last Sunday when I went to write a news article about the biggest nut plantation in the whole of Finland; and apparently the only one. None of the people in our editorial office had heard of hazel nuts growing in Finland, not only on a plantation but also wild in nature.
The nursery garden called Vakka-Taimi with 400 hazel nut trees is located in a small municipality of Pyhäranta in southwest of Finland. As I was writing a story for a local newspaper, I obviously had a professional photographer with me. Pekka Lehmuskallio was kind enough to give me a permission to use his photographs. Please make sure you won’t do the same, at least not without asking.
All photos in this post: © Pekka Lehmuskallio
Well, even if I didn’t know earlier that we have hazel nuts growing here in Finland, I have bought and had them many times. And to be honest, out of all nuts, hazel nuts have always been the ones I favour the least. For some reason I have never liked the taste of them.
Until I had a chance to taste local ones.
The nuts sold in grocery shops are not Finnish ones. Maybe in some rare cases, but normally they are brought from the other side of the world. And I guess it’s quite obvious that a local production always beats the product shipped from thousands of miles away.
I love hazel nuts after all! The taste is amazing.
And so was the nut garden. Vakka-Taimi in Pyhäranta is apparently the only garden in Finland with a natural local nut tree plantation. The smallest trees there were probably two meters high, but the biggest ones reached from 6 to 7 meters up in the air. Even if we call it as a bush in Finnish language, to me the plant really seemed more like a tree.
At first it was very difficult to find any nuts at all, but once your eye got used to it, you realized there are plenty of them everywhere. Funny enough, I also realized I have never before even thought how nuts grow. In a tree, in a bush… for me they have only grown in my local grocery store’s nut stand. I went completely nuts!
Now you are probably wondering how could you pick nuts that are growing at seven meters. Well, in Vakka-Taimi they had made hooks out of old fishing rods. With this ‘hook’ they were able to reach the highest branches and bend them down to such level that you could pick the nuts.
These Finnish hazel nuts are edible right away after picking and cracking, but the taste keeps developing for weeks. You could store them even for a year. Or two. I got to taste this year’s nuts and last year’s nuts and the difference was quite clear, as the one year old nuts had such a strong flavour. Oh boy, was that delicious! The taste was nothing like the ones sold in my local shop. The ones I have absolutely no idea where they are shipped from.
The best learning is yet to come: I could plant those nuts in my own garden! And I only need to wait for six to eight years to get something to eat from my own nut tree.
Yeah… it could be easier, or at least faster, to buy a young tree for planting. The most intriguing fact is that the tree I didn’t even know survives in Finland is apparently very easy to take care of. I was talking with several experts and they all convinced me the hazel nut tree can manage nearly in any kind of garden in this area, as long as it’s not planted right next to spruces. Apparently even I could manage to grow one, even if I’m not much of a gardener.
I wish so much I could have a little peek into the future and see where I will live eight years from today. I would go there already and plant my nuts in the garden!
Isn’t it amazing how excited I can get about nuts!? And isn’t it amazing how a fact like this can stay as a secret for so many years.
I’m not the only one who didn’t know this, luckily. The owner of the nursery garden said the most of the people visiting in the garden are shocked just like I was. The visitors I met in the garden last Sunday said they don’t even know what the nut itself looks like. At least I knew that!
Would you have guessed nuts can grow this far north?
How about it, would you like to have some Finnish nuts?
Are you already going nuts for Finnish nuts? Pin this story for later!
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