Tuesday, April 15, 2014

crispy almonds

I am all too aware that I’ve only been posting recipes for sweets. Since the beginning of February, there has been chocolate mint chip cookies, chocolate pudding, almond cake, peanut butter and jelly bars, chocolate babka, maple pecan scones, and oatmeal raisin cookies. Oh, and the one exception: roasted cauliflower soup.

This does not mean we’ve been eating only sweets! To the contrary, we’ve been feasting on lentils and brown rice, taco salad, pizza, oven fries, noodles with pesto, salads, green smoothies, and all sorts of veggies from the freezer. It’s just that I do a little more experimenting with the non-necessities. All the old standbys, you already know about.

Except I haven’t told you about my nuts.


When we came back from Guatemala, my younger brother gave us three large bags of nuts: walnuts, pecan, and almonds. I used up all the pecans in baking pretty quickly, but the other two kinds lingered. The children are a bit hesitant about nuts in baked goods, so I mostly used them for salads or snacking.But plain nuts can be a bit dull (and thus the reason I reach for chocolate).

And then I remembered the crispy almonds I used to make. A quick recipe check, and I jumped on the crispy nut bandwagon: I was gonna crisp up both the walnuts and the almonds.


It’s a simple procedure, but a bit leisurely.

1. Soak the raw nuts in salt water over night.
2. Drain the nuts.
3. Bake the nuts on a stainless steel tray at 150 degrees for a small eternity (about 24 hours or two daylight days).
4. Eat.

Almonds are tremendously improved by this soak-and-toast treatment. They become salty (in a gentle way) with a delightfully irresistible crunch.


The walnuts, on the other hand, are less noticeably altered. They crisp up, yes, but more softly (if that makes any sense). The biggest benefit to toasting the walnuts is that they are very easy to crumble using just your fingers. I love crumbling a handful of the walnuts into my morning bowl of steelcut oats or over my noontime salad.

Last week I bought a three-pound bag of raw almonds. In a couple days when the weather is supposed to be a bit chillier, I plan on filling my oven with several trays of soaked nuts. This way, as we head into summer and heavy-duty outside playing, we’ll have a stash of crispy almonds always standing at the ready for snacking.


Crispy Almonds
Adapted from Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions.

The recipe says to use filtered water and sea salt. I use tap water and any old salt. It works.

4 cups raw almonds
1 tablespoon salt

Place the almonds in a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt. Cover with cool tap water. (If you’re worried about the salt not dissolving properly, you can dissolve the salt in a bit of water, pour it over the nuts, and then top off the bowl with fresh water.) Place a piece of plastic over the bowl and let sit on the counter overnight.

In the morning, drain the nuts. Place the nuts on a stainless steel baking tray. (Or line a baking tray with parchment paper—if you don’t, the nuts will stain the sheet and the sheet will blacken the nuts.) Bake the nuts at 150 degrees—I just set my oven to “warm”—for 18-24 hours or until they are crispy, giving the nuts a stir every several hours. (To see if the nuts are done, allow them to cool to room temperature before tasting. Warm nuts = soft nuts = not helpful.)

Store the crispy nuts in a quart jar in the freezer. Because if you leave them on the counter, they will disappear way too fast.

Variations
Crispy Walnuts: 4 cups walnuts and 2 teaspoons salt. Same process.
Crispy Pecans: 4 cups pecans and 2 teaspoons salt. Same process.

This same time, years previous: asparagus walnut salad (this would be perfect with the crispy walnuts!) and asparagus with lemony creme fraiche and boiled egg.

7 comments:

  1. This works great in a food dehydrator too.

    - Kris

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    1. Yes! I was thinking this might work. Note to self: get dehydrator out of attic.

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  2. I forgot about these! One of my friends gave me some years ago and then copied out the recipe for me. Must acquire some almonds. Sally Fallon does NOT seem your style - how did you venture into her world?

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    1. A friend (the one above) clued me in to her. She has some very tasty recipes and I loved reading her theories and philosophies. I also loved that she "challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats."

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    2. Oh! Sally Fallon and the diet dictocrats get tossed around all the time in casual conversation around our place. Diet Dictocrats! Of course, in all her challenging, she has become her own kind of Diet Dictocrat ... but she does have some good ideas.

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  3. The black stuff bothers me. Is that from the baking sheet?

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    Replies
    1. Yes. They picked up those black spots in the first several hours. After that, they didn't get any blacker. There is no flavor from it. Next time, the pans will be carefully lined. Actually, next time the nuts are going in the dehydrator.

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