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  • Tasmanian hazelnut growers get cracking on harvest with new machinery

    Mar 15th, 2017

    After seven years, Carol and Nathan Bracken's 10-hectare orchard at Glengarry, in the West Tamar Valley, is now producing large enough quantities to clean, crack, shell, grade and pack hazelnuts on the farm. Around two tonnes of nuts will be run through the new processing line this year. "We've got a lot of our equipment from Europe because they have a lot of hazelnut growing over there," Ms Bracken said."They're pretty small compared to some other countries and that suits us just fine." The machinery will also enable the Brackens to contract-crack for other producers. "It's nice to have a couple of people doing it in Tasmania," Ms Bracken said. "So we're looking to buy nuts off other growers who don't have this kind of facility. "Because doing it by hand takes a lot longer than running it through this machine." The Brackens' 5,000-tree orchard is made up of three hazelnut varieties: Tokolyi Brownfield Cosford, Lewis, and Barcelona.

    With additional plantings, the Brackens hope to produce up to 60 tonnes each year. Ms Bracken said the key was to educate consumers about the benefits of local product. Australia is a relatively modest producer of hazelnuts; most are imported from Spain and Turkey. "Because it is extremely hard to get hold of Australian-grown hazelnuts, most people don't know about them," she said. "People who come from Europe are really aware of what a fresh hazelnut should taste like."They know that the ones in the supermarket they're getting are a bit bitter and have gone off really.

    "Hazelnuts are like all the other nuts, they're high in oil and it's just butter, so it goes off over time if they sit on the shelf in the supermarket too long. "They won't taste as sweet and as yummy as you get from the ones this season." The Brackens' hazelnuts are starting to fall from the trees now. Last year's cold, wet spring has delayed the harvest by a few weeks.