Hazelbrae Hazelnuts deliver the good oil on a range of products

Sept 2015 Christie Mcleod Hazelbrae Hazelnuts Hagley

Hazelbrae Hazelnuts deliver the good oil on a range of products

SEPTEMBER 2015 | Joanne Eisemann

THEY ARE not scared of a bit of work, the farmers at Hazelbrae Hazelnuts.

Michael Delphin and Christie McLeod purchased the 74-hectare farm just before harvest in 2014.

Christie says, “I can count on one hand how many full days off I have had in the last eighteen months.”

But the work has paid off with Hazelbrae’s roasted hazelnuts recently receiving a medal in the ‘From the Earth (Artisan)’ category Hazelbrae Hazelnuts deliver the good oil on a range of products at the national finals of the prestigious Delicious Magazine Produce Awards, after being up against a range of produce such as honey and salt.

New customers were also won from the meal served on the award night, as Christie explains, “They used our produce on the night. The chefs who used it were pretty happy with the quality of the product, so now they are buying ours instead of the imported Italian ones.”

Not new to farming, Christie and Michael moved to Hagley from Moriarty where they had a smaller mixed cropping and cattle fattening property.

“We wanted to get into something that was a little bit different and a bit more under our control. Rather than bowing to the pressures of big companies that just decide what they are going to pay you,” Christie adds.

The property has 5000 hazelnut trees planted on eighteen hectares. Christie says that this year’s harvest of over 10 tonnes of nuts was probably Australia’s largest.

Hazelnuts are wind pollinated and so rely on having compatible varieties planted close by.

Hazelbrae has 3 varieties: one suitable for raw nuts, one for roasting and the third gets cold pressed yielding 50% oil.

“You can get 60% if you use chemical processing. We cold press because it is a cleaner healthier product,” adds Christie.

Hazelnut oil can be used for anything a good olive oil can be used for, having similar nutritional benefits. It is high in vitamin E, so is good for skin.

All the nuts are sold shelled, as Christie and Michael are keen to ensure the quality of their produce. When they do sell shelled nuts, in a low percentage of cases, they may be misshapen or affected by moisture.

Cracking and roasting are done on the farm. And with assistance from an Australian Innovation and Investment Fund Grant, a tasting centre is currently under construction.

“People will be able to come and see everything we can find to do with hazelnuts, have a coffee, light lunch, do a tour of the farm, we’re even planning a hazelnut treasure hunt for kids” shares Christie.

The centre will open late November, operating nine months of the year. They expect to employ seven staff.

In the meantime, Hazelbrae hazelnut products can be purchased from the Hagley General Store and via www.hazelbrae.com.au

 Mike Moores