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Beyond Olive oil: Hazelnut (Filbert) Oil
About Hazelnut Oil
Hazelnut (also called filbert) oil has been used since antiquity in Turkey and other parts of Asia Minor, where there are native trees. The oil pressed from filberts is nutty, flavourful and delicious. While filbert oil is not good for frying, since it has a low smoke point, filbert oil is delicious in a variety of dishes that call for oil to be used, especially where you want more taste than canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, or peanut oil, and not so fruity a flavour as olive oil. In that case, if you want a nutty flavour, this oil may be the perfect choice! Filbert oil is also great brushed onto food for grilling, although you may need to adjust your grilling temperature slightly.
Even if you have never eaten a hazelnut, you may be familiar with the taste, since they are used in the delicious chocolate spread, Nutella, and in many other dishes with chocolate. Filbert oil is made from the nuts, and although it may be difficult to find, it's worth trying for its great flavour! The best hazelnut oil comes from roasted hazelnuts, so try to find a brand that specifies that the filberts have been roasted. Many chefs prefer hazelnut oil from certain regions of France, but for most of us ordinary cooks, roasted filbert oil from other regions will serve just as well. Choose a cold-pressed oil for the most flavour.
This nut and its oil are especially high in folic acid and the other B vitamins, as well as oleic acid, linoleic acid, and vitamin E. Filbert oil is also a good source of calcium, potassium, and magnesium, along with other micronutrients.
If Your Store Doesn't Carry Filbert Oil
This brand contains oil from roasted filberts, generally considered to be the best kind of hazelnut oil.
Nut Allergy Warning
Never use filbert oil if you are allergic to tree nuts.
Hazelnut oil is rather strongly flavoured, so use it with caution until you are familiar with it. One of the best ways to use hazelnut oil is to replace corn oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil in baked goods: cakes, brownies, and cookies. The taste of hazelnut oil mixes exceptionally well with chocolate, berries, and citrus fruits, especially oranges.
Salad dressings are another way to use hazelnut oil, although you may find you need to cut the taste with a lighter-flavoured oil, or use less dressing than you normally would. You can also use it as a replacement for olive oil in Mediterranean dishes like hummus or baba ganoush, in pâtés, and one of my favourite ways: preserving lemons or oranges in oil (other citrus fruits such as limes and grapefruits can be preserved this way, too).
Hazelnut oil is also extremely beneficial used externally on both skin and hair, and it is often used in massage oils. Filbert oil strengthens the capillaries (small blood vessels), and is useful in protecting the skin and hair from ultraviolet radiation.