Hazelnuts are a staple in European confections and baked goods, as well as an ingredient in Fererro's popular Nutella spread. But hazelnuts have another popular name—filberts. How did that happen?
The most widely believed story explaining this second name is steeped in religion. The feast day of St. Philbert, a French saint, falls on August 20th. That also happens to be peak harvest time for hazelnuts, which traditionally mature in late August. So people started applying the saint's name to the nuts that were in season on his feast day. Hazelnuts have even more aliases in the US: some people call them cob nuts, and still others simply call them hazels.
Oregon grows 98% of hazelnuts produced in the US—but only a fraction of the world's supply of hazelnuts are grown here; the vast majority of hazelnuts are grown in Turkey, Spain, and Italy.
In honor of St. Philbert's Day: Do you ever cook or bake with hazelnuts?
About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co. which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying, or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.