Coffee substitute? Bay nut truffles? If you don't already know, get hip to one of our yummiest native wild foods, California bay nuts. Relative to the avacado, the California Bay Laurel has a myriad of uses from food and medicine, to furniture, flooring, cabinetry, and other woodworking.
On a recent field trip to Point Reyes my son and I collected a bunch of bay nuts. I brought them home and sat them in a bowl on the table to fully ripen.
After all the skins were pretty dark, I peeled off the outer fruit which resembles a tiny avocado. I then gave them a good rinse in a colander and roasted them in a shallow baking dish for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. I let them cool and cracked off the shells which revealed the bay nuts looking almost identical to roasted coffee beans just bit lighter in color. Into the grinder they went (with some cacao nibs for good measure of course!) and whola...my very own roasted Bay nut coffee. It's pretty delicious, I must say I'm hooked, especially with fresh, frothy cream and honey. Well worth the effort, all natural, hand gathered and without that jittery effect coffee can have. Now I just need my year's supply! Here is the link to a great local video on how to process bay nuts. Enjoy!