Why Are Hazelnuts Also Called Filberts?

That's Nuts

A weekly dose of nutty history, pop culture, and recipes from Lee Zalben, aka The Peanut Butter Guy.

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[Photograph: Rachel Garbade]

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?