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12/09/2010

~ How to: Roast/Toast Most Nuts and Some Seeds ~

6a0120a8551282970b016303dc1dd1970dOven Roasting/Toasting Nuts & Some Seeds

Roasted nuts and seeds add both a wonderful flavor and a crunchy texture when baked in, added to or sprinkled on almost anything!  Try them:  baked in cookies, brownies, muffins, cakes or pies; added to your favorite poultry stuffing or sauteed vegetables; or, lightly sprinkled on top of garden and pasta salads, or, tangy chicken/ham or tuna salads.

Be sure to use only fresh nuts and seeds.  The best place to store them for a short time, 1-2 weeks, is in your refrigerator.  For longer storage, your freezer will keep them perfectly for a year.  Roast only as many as you need, as they can and will turn rancid quickly (this is because roasting releases all of the fragrant, flavorful oils) or, roast a large quantity and after they have cooled completely, return them to the refrigerator or freezer for longer storage.  There is no need to defrost nuts or seeds prior to roasting.  The following is a list of a few choices/possibilities:

Almonds, Cashews, Hazelnuts

Macadamias (pictured above), Peanuts, Pecans

Pistachios, Pine Nuts, Walnuts, or:

Whole:  Cumin Seeds, Fennel Seeds, Sesame Seeds 

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds #1 (Intro Picture) Read my post ~ How to:  Roast Pumpkin Seeds ~, found in Categories 2, 15 & 18 for a slightly different process, which can also be applied to roasting acorn and butternut squash seeds as well.

The above mentioned pumpkin seed post includes photographs and detailed instructions for how to clean and dry pumpkin seeds prior to roasting and eating them for a delicious snack!

Note:  The following is a guideline/method for roasting nuts and seeds.  Keep in mind that a few variables will affect the amount of time it will take each particular variety to roast/toast:

The quantity being roasted:  large quantities will take longer.

The size of the nuts/seeds:  small or chopped ones will roast quicker.

The amount of oil contained in each type:  determines how quickly they will burn.

Chow Mein (Untoasted Peanuts) Spread the nuts or seeds, in a single layer on a shallow baking pan.  The size of the pan is determined by the quantity of nuts being roasted.  Roast on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 3-15 minutes, stopping to toss with a spoon about every 3-5 minutes.  The time is takes to toast them is determined by the size of the nuts/seeds being roasted.  In all cases, due to the varying amount of oil(s) contained in each type, nuts/seeds can and will go from lightly browned and fragrant to burned very quickly, so watch them carefully during the entire roasting process.  When you begin to smell them, that is a good indicator they are done or almost done. 

Chow Mein (Toasted Peanuts) Remove from oven and set aside.  Keep in mind that carryover heat will continue to roast all nuts and seeds (for about 1-2 minutes) once they are removed from the oven. Because of this, I like to remove them when they are lightly golden brown.  Unless a recipe directs you to use them while they are still warm, cool them completely, then use as directed in specific recipe .

Some nuts, like whole almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts in particular, occasionally have skins that require removal.  After cooling the roasted nuts slightly, 2-3 minutes, transfer the nuts to a large cotton kitchen towel.  Gather the sides of the towel up around the nuts to form a pouch and vigorously rub the nuts together, about 2 minutes.  The steam and the rubbing will remove the excess thick skins from the nuts.  Open the pouch.  Using a slotted spoon, sift the nuts from the skins, gently shaking each spoonful.  Set the nuts aside and discard the skins.

Note:  The process of removing the excess skin from roasted nuts should be quick and easy.  Do not make it tedious and cumbersome by attempting to remove all of the small bits of skin that still remain on the nuts... that will make you nuts!!!

Skillet Roasting/Toasting Small Quantities of Nuts & Some Seeds

An alternative to oven roasting, in order to quickly roast a small quantity of nuts or seeds, is to place them, in a single layer, in a 10"-12" nonstick skillet over medium/medium-high heat.  Cook until the nuts or seeds are lightly browned and fragrant (again, when you begin to smell them they are done or close to done), about 2-4 minutes, tossing constantly using a nonstick spoon or a nonstick spatula.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.  Use as directed in specific recipe.  All of the time variables discussed in the above recipe for Oven Roasting/Toasting Some Nuts & Seeds apply to skillet roasting/toasting them.

IMG_8785 IMG_8781Note:  In Asian cuisines, the method of quickly cooking an ingredient, be it nuts, seeds, meat or even seafood, without adding oil or fat to the skillet is referred to as "dry frying".  I mention this so if you come across a recipe that instructs to "dry-fry one cup of cashews", you will understand the process.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2010)

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