It is important to wait until hazelnuts are fully ripe before picking them. They should have a woody husk that is wrinkled and comes off easily. They are harvested both with traditional methods by hand and with automatic systems.
Freshly picked hazelnuts tend to be reasonably moist, which means that they cannot be stored for very long. To reduce the moisture levels, they are dried. This can either be done by leaving them in cool, dry places for 2-3 weeks or by putting them in special dryers for 6-12 hours. After undergoing this process, hazelnuts can be stored in their shells for two years.
Shelling and calibration
The kernels are removed from their protective shells. This is done by putting them through special mills. The shells are crushed and separated from the kernels. Once they have been shelled, the hazelnuts are classified and divided by size.
Foreign bodies and faulty kernels are removed in this extremely delicate and important stage. After the calibration process, all of the hazelnuts undergo meticulous quality checks, first with the assistance of electronic grading machines and then with expert personnel.
Roasting is the most important stage. It gives character and personality to the hazelnuts, and therefore also to the paste. Our hazelnuts are cooked in hot air ovens that reduce their moisture levels, change their colour, enhance their flavour and set free the classic aroma. When Tonda Gentile delle Langhe hazelnuts are roasted, the ovens are heated to relatively low temperatures so that the sweet notes are more prominent than the roasted ones. Mortarella Campana hazelnuts undergo a more intense roasting process that gives them a clear, long-lasting flavour. Great skill is required to find the perfect balance between the temperature and the duration of the roasting procedure, in order to achieve the best possible results in terms of flavour, aroma, crunchiness and shelf life.
Checking the roasted hazelnuts
After they have been roasted, another quality check is carried out on the nuts: they are scrupulously examined as they move along a special conveyor belt and any remaining pieces of shell or faulty kernels are removed by hand.
Grinding and refinement
Freshly roasted hazelnuts undergo an initial pre-grinding process. The next step is refinement, which either takes place in steel ball refiners or roll refiners. Subsequently, the paste is sifted to remove any fragments of shell and skin. The end result is an even, perfectly smooth paste with a fineness of between 16 and 18 microns. Finally, before the paste is packaged, it goes through the metal detector again for a last foreign body check.