Our hazel nuts gave us a bountiful harvest this year – the best so far from bushes planted in 2003 and 2007. Although we’ve worked out the process for cracking black walnuts and hickories, the small hazels don’t fare well with that system. Their diminutive size makes them hard to manipulate into the one-at-a-time, large nutcracker. And their thinner shells are easily crushed with too much pressure, which mashes the nutmeats too. But the shells are a bit too hard for a regular, old-style hand nutcracker. So we recently purchased another hand tool that’s just right for the job.
It’s an Irwin Tools “Vise Grip – Model GV10”, price around $16. It’s more of an adjustable, channel-lock-type wrench than a vise grip. The serrated jaws can be easily adjusted to the best size and they’re shaped to fit nuts and bolts, so hazels nuts are no problem. The shells are easily cracked without hand fatigue and the nutmeats come out either whole or cracked in half. Now we can fully enjoy all the nuts we’ve stored for the winter while looking forward to the larger harvests to come in the future as our nut plantings mature.