All hazelnuts, whether in the shell or shelled, must meet strict USDA quality standards before entering a channel of trade. Processing, handling and storage conditions conform to Oregon and federal regulations. Grading of hazelnuts is based on strict percentages of size, character, quantity of imperfect pieces and freedom from defects and extraneous material.
Oregon Hazelnuts are dried under carefully controlled conditions to a kernel moisture content of less than 6 percent. These are typically referred to as “natural” or “raw” kernels. The drying has occurred while the nuts are in their shells.
Moisture and Water Activity:
Natural hazelnut kernels contain between 4% and 6% moisture; dry-roasted kernels contain 2-3% moisture. This corresponds to a water activity (aw) of about 0.46 to 0.49, a level that does not support microbial growth. The FDA has established 0.70 at 25 degrees Celsius as a safe aw level.
The low water activity of Oregon Hazelnuts, along with high Vitamin E levels, deters fat oxidation and off-flavor development. Low moisture provides bacteriological and texture stability. Moisture absorption in finished products is low. The crisp texture can be further maintained by coating with sugar, chocolate, fat or other edible coatings.
Oregon Hazelnut products are packaged in various case sizes. Interior packaging options include poly-lined or vacuum-packed and nitrogen-flushed.
To maintain highest quality, Oregon hazelnuts should be stored at 34 to 38 degrees F. At this temperature, hazelnuts can be stored up to one year. Unused portion should be refrigerated in a closed container, away from odor producing substances. Maintain circulation behind warehoused cases. Allow unopened containers to warm to room temperature prior to use in order to prevent mold and rancidity.
Oregon Hazelnuts can be successfully frozen at 27 degrees F or lower. Recommend immediate usage after product reaches room temperature on both frozen and refrigerated kernels.
The distinctive, rich flavor of hazelnuts is found in the carbohydrate fraction rather than in the kernel fat, making the flavor more easily extracted and concentrated. Intensify flavors by roasting, chopping or grinding.
Organoleptic, microbiological and analytical attributes can be obtained from each supplier.