If you've ever struggled to remove the pesky skins off toasted hazelnuts, you know it's a maddening process that makes a huge mess. Little pieces of papery hazelnut skin fly all over the place and no matter how hard you try, you can never get it all off. But I want to tell you, there's a much easier way. I shared this technique a couple of years ago when I made Nocciola Baci. I'd seen Alice Medrich teach Julia Child the technique many years ago. I'm amazed more people don't know about it. Since the busy baking season will soon be upon us, I thought now would be a good time to share again.
Start with yummy hazelnuts. Do you call them hazelnuts or filberts?
We're going to need boiling water and....
....and baking soda. Yes, baking soda. Trust me, it works!
So when the water begins to boil, add the baking soda. The mixture should bubble furiously.
Add the hazelnuts and boil for a few minutes until the skins are easily removed.
Be careful, the mixture will foam a lot and it boils over easily. As you can see in the photo, that happened to me when I turned my back for just a moment. Don't be alarmed when you notice the water turning black. Totally normal.
Keep the temp low and stir, stir, stir. That seems to help keep the mixture from overflowing. If at any time the bubbles get close to the top of the pan, lift the pan off the heat until the bubbles subside.
The hazelnuts are ready to go when the skin slips off easily. Looks like mine are ready. Strain and rinse them in cool water, slipping the skins off as you go.
4 done, 400 more to go. The hazelnuts are now "blanched". Allow them to dry and use them as they are or toast them to deepen their flavor.
Toast them in a hot skillet or pop them in a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes. Cool completely before using.
How to Blanch, Peel, or Skin Hazelnuts
- 2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons baking soda
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- Bring water to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan.
- Add baking soda and hazelnuts; boil 2-3 minutes or until skins easily slip off (stir and adjust heat frequently to prevent mixture from boiling over).
- Strain and rinse nuts under cold water.
- Pinch skins off nuts; allow to dry completely.
- This technique creates a lot of foamy bubbles so use a large saucepan to prevent the chances of the mixture boiling over and making a mess on your cooktop.
- To toast blanched hazelnuts, place on a sheet pan and bake in a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes. Cool completely before using.