Posted 23rd Sep 2014
Owner of Potash Farm and Chairman of the Kentish Cobnut Association, Alexander Hunt, is the only organic cobnut producer in Kent. As one of Britain’s endangered foods, Alexander is passionate about preserving cobnuts as part Britain’s edible biodiversity
Hazels have grown wild in Britain for thousands of years. The Romans may have begun cultivating them but records of cultivated nuts, known as filberts, date back to the 16th Century. In 1830 a new variety, Lamberts Filbert, was introduced and today it is better known as the Kentish cob.
Potash Farm, owned and run by Alexander Hunt, is situated at the southern end of St Mary’s Platt, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Having been beautifully restored over the years, the farm now contains around 500 original trees and 500 newly planted trees. The whole purpose of the restoration of the Potash Farm Plantation is to preserve the plantation as a fine example of cobnut growing in a village that derives its name from cobnut production. Today the plantation is part of the village's heritage and offers a great educational opportunity to follow the ins and outs of commercial cobnut production in a rural environment. Having been featured on television programmes such as The Hairy Bikers, Ade Edmondson in Britain and The Hungry Sailors, Potash Farm and its products, which range from handmade toasted Kentish cobnut brittle, fudge and shortbread to rhubarb and toasted cobnut chutney and single estate Ecuador dark chocolate covered caramelised cobnuts, as well as fresh and dried cobnuts themselves, has gained a loyal and almost cult following amongst foodies.
Fun cobnut facts
- Cobnut pickers are called ‘nutters’.
- 6 cobnuts offer the equivalent iron and protein of ½lb of red meat. They are also high in calcium and vitamin A.
- The cobnut is a cultivated form of hazel. While the classic hazelnut is fingernail shaped, cobnuts are broader, longer and shaped more like a thumbnail.
- Fresh and unprocessed, cobnuts can be eaten moist straight after picking in late August and September, when they have the texture of a sweet chestnut.
- As they turn brown in the autumn, cobnuts dry out and the starch inside turns to sugar, making them much sweeter.
- In Victorian times, Kentish cobnuts graced the tables of the grandest houses in the country and were regarded as the finest of desserts. They were also served on long sea voyages because they were one of the few foods that stayed fresh through months at sea.
Alexander's top tips for eating cobnuts...
Cobnuts are delicious fresh on their own. They can also be eaten with other ingredients, such as in a salad; some people like to eat them with a little salt. If they are to be chopped, this is best done shortly before eating them, as they do not keep well once they have been cut.
Cobnuts 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, fruit crumbles, cakes and cake toppings.
To celebrate British Food Fortnight we're giving LandLove readers the chance to save 10% off Potash Farm products!
To save 10% simply enter code LandLove10 at the checkout at www.kentishcobnuts.com. Code expires 10th October 2014.
By Natalie Crofts