Kentish Cobnuts are an all too rare find. A Presidia food in the SlowFood Ark of Taste, there were 7000 acres in Victorian times, now they number 200 and falling. Many of us grow an apple tree, or even a Damson (Another endangered species), but how many of consider a nut tree or two?
Assuming your garden is Grey Squirrel free, August brings copious green coconut scented Cobnuts, but it is September they peak, with the starch turning sweet, yet with a still milky flesh.
Cobnuts, a type of hazel, are delicious toasted, tossed into salads (Perhaps with some juicey orange segments and mint), or just eaten as they are. My favourite use is in a cob-nut pesto, smeared over some Salt Marsh Lamb, a nutty herby contrast to the sweet tasting meat.
Buying these fantastic nuts (or a bottle of Cobnut oil – delicious drizzled on to squash soups) prevents the grubbing up of a small corner of sun-dappled traditional England, of wood being coppiced, of nuts collected. One only hopes that it is not already too late to save them.
Cob nut “pesto” Good fist-full of herbs (Basil – though add Thyme or Rosemary for Lamb, Tarragon for Chicken, Dill for fish) Half a fist-full of toasted Cobnuts Three or four smashed garlic cloves Grated Lord of the Hundreds (Or other hard English cheese, or even Parmesan) Hemp Oil (Or other mild oil)
Either in a pestle and mortar grind the herbs and garlic together, using sea- salt to help grind it down, or add to a food processor. Either way, grind to a paste, before adding your grated cheese and crushed cobnuts. Add oil – far more than you think you will need – to get to a thickish paste. This will store in the fridge in a small Kilner if you layer some more oil on the top to prevent the herbs discolouring. Otherwise use hungrily, immediately.
Other good things for cobnuts? Place in a mould and with fat raisins and pour over milk chocolate, or pour over a dark caramel, leave to set and smash into pieces. Try to save some for later.