What’s the difference between Hazelnut, Filbert and Cobnut?
If you are one of the hazelnut lovers, as I am, you might wonder why these nuts are also described as cobnuts or filberts? Would hazelnuts by those other names taste as sweet? There are all the nuts of hazel family trees, but there is a small difference between them which have roots in the long-ago.
Read on to discover how they got these names and what is the difference between them. You can find out more about hazelnuts in our other articles on how to choose perfect hazelnuts, the difference between macadamia and hazelnut, hazelnut allergy symptoms and treatments.
Most botanists think that the layman’s term for the Corylaceae family of plants is the Hazel family. All trees or shrubs belonging to the Corylus species are members of the Hazel tree family. So, it makes sense that their nuts are called hazelnuts.
It is also said that the name “Hazel” is derived from ‘Haesel,’ an ancient Anglo-Saxon word for Hood, which describes the appearance of the nutshells.
Who came up with filberts?
In some regions, hazelnuts were called filberts because of the hairy, bearded husks that cover their shells. In Germany — where hazelnut trees are commonly cultivated — the word “Vollbart” means “full beard.”
Another explanation is that filberts are named for the French monk St. Philibert, whose feast day happens on August 22.
In the early 19th century, French-Canadian immigrants in Oregon’s Willamette Valley noticed fresh hazelnuts ripening on the feast day, for France’s St. Philibert is held on Aug. 20. They dubbed them “Philibert’s,” and eventually, “filberts.”
Although the names hazelnut and filbert are used interchangeably, filbert typically indicates the commercially cultivated crops of hazelnuts.
Filberts are actually a subsection of “Cobnuts,” to be identified as a Filbert the husk must surround the nut.
What are Cobnuts?
Cobnuts are hazelnuts that are cultivated for eating which are sold fresh rather than dried. Cobnuts are usually larger, longer, and more ovoid than wild hazelnuts.
The most popular hazelnut variety, Lambert’s Filbert, is commonly recognized as a Kentish Cobnut.
The name “cobnut” comes from a 15th-century children’s game. Two kids would each tie a hazelnut to a string and take turns trying to hit the other’s nut, or “cob.”
Around 1830, a group of British horticulturists cultivated a hazelnut variety called ‘Kentish Cob.’ Reliable harvests of these delicious nuts have made ‘Kentish Cob’ very famous between home gardeners.
What is the difference between filbert and hazelnut?
To complete my explanation, some may say that filberts are longer and thinner than others, and non-filberts are shorter and rounder. This is sometimes accurate but is often based on species and cultivars.
Finally, what drives this whole naming system off is that people have local preferences for what they call the nut from hazel species.
If you are in eastern North America, you may call them either filberts or hazelnuts depending on your family antiquity.
If you are in the Pacific Northwest, the older generation may call them filberts and the younger generation remembers them as hazelnuts thanks to marketing rising in 1981.
If you live in Europe or England, you probably call them filberts unless you are speaking about cobnuts.
If you live in Turkey, you would call them hazelnuts. And of course, in Asia, the local names are entirely different.
So, there you have it. In the end, we don’t care what they’re called. They are wonderful!
If you have any questions about hazelnuts, you can ask us in the comments below.