A Kentsh Cobnut is a type of hazelnut, just as a Bramley is a type of apple. Unlike most other nuts, cobnuts are sold fresh not partially dried. They are in season typically from the end of August through to October. Stored nuts may be available from selected outlets through to Christmas.
At the begining of the season the husks are green and the kernels juicy. Nuts harvested later on are ripe, have brown shells and husks, and the full flavour has developed. Cobnuts are sold fresh and like other fresh foods they should be kept in the fridge, for example in the salad drawer. Husks should be removed if they are loose but it is not necessary to remove every one. the addition of a little salt helps preserve the nuts. Stored correctly, ripe nuts will keep until Christmas and beyond.
Cobnuts are delicious fresh, for example as a snack or in salads. They are also excellent roasted, which brings out their flavour. Roasted nuts can be eaten on their own, or used whole, chopped or ground to flavour pasta, meringues, cakes, etc.
To roast cobnuts, crack and shell them, then cook them on tin foil or on a baking tray in an oven heated to about 150 degrees for an hour or so; the cooking time depends on how ripe they are. First they become soft, but do not remove them until they have hardened. Be careful not to burn them.
Many cobnut orchards or ‘plats’ are a century old or more, but new plats are now being planted again. you can grow them in your garden but the grey squirrels may eat them before they are ripe. Old nut plats are important for nature conservation as they support many animals including the doormouse with is a protected by law.