Cobnuts are cultivated hazelnuts, of which the Kentish Cobnut, with its large, ovoid nut and excellent flavour, is the most popular variety. Cobnuts are sold fresh (wet) when they ripen in September.
The cultivation of hazelnuts in Britain dates back to at least the 16th century, although the Kentish cobnut is thought to have been introduced in around 1830. The Kentish Cobnut was first called Lambert’s Filbert. A Filbert is distinguished from a cobnut in that its husk is longer than the nut. In 1913 there were about 3000ha of hazelnuts being grown in orchards or “plats” as they are known, within the county of Kent. Currently only about 100ha of these trees remain. Their decline was closely linked to the decline of hop growing in the area, as both ripen around the same time and the cobnuts were often picked by the hop pickers (largely for their own consumption). The Sevenoaks to Maidstone district of west Kent is the main area of production. The ragstone rock produces a free-draining fertile soil with a neutral pH that seems to be particularly favourable for hazelnut production.