This is a technique to add to your repertoire of skills. Toasted nuts are delicious. Nuts add flavor and texture to dishes, both sweet and savory. Toast nuts and they becomes a thing of beauty. In fact, they’re a revelation. Obviously, for those with allergies, you can stop reading right now and go do something that will be less dangerous, like juggling knives! It must be unbelievably frightening to have such a life-threatening condition. I do sympathize with your predicament, as far as I can, not having such an experience in my life. So this post, is not for you. But, for the rest of us, you need to toast your nuts! It changes them completely, but in a very good way. Yesterday, when I was making Boozy Banana Bread with Chocolate, I wanted to add toasted walnuts. I only needed one cup, so I toasted them in the microwave. It works very well. It really does. But, you have to be vigilant. You have to stir the nuts much more frequently than when you toast in the more conventional way. I place them, in a single layer, on a microwave-safe plate. I nuke them on HIGH for 1 minute. Then, I stir them, nuke for 1 minute, stir again, nuke for 30 seconds, stir, nuke for 30 seconds…I keep this process up, until they’re nice and toasty. It usually takes about 3-4 minutes total, but it will depend on your microwave, so watch them. As you may see, the difference between untoasted and toasted nuts is subtle. It should be, particularly when you’re baking with them or heating them further, as I was yesterday.
I usually purchase nuts whole or in large pieces, and I purchase them by the pound when I can. They are usually less expensive by the pound, and you’ll always have them when you need them. I also toast the entire pound at once, cool them completely and then pop them into a freezer bag, and into the freezer. They’ll remain fresh and flavorful for at least 6 months in your freezer, some people say longer.
When I toast a pound of nuts (I was doing about 3 pounds of nuts in the picture!), I do that in the oven. To do it this way, heat your oven to 350°F. Spread nuts—pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, etc…whatever sparks your taste buds, in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 6-10 minutes, tossing the nuts occasionally. This will ensure more even cooking. You’ll know they are done, when they darken slightly and smell wonderfully toasty. Remove the pan from the oven and cool completely. Do taste one (don’t eat the whole pan…been there, done that!), but let the nuts cool slightly before you taste, as they’ll burn your mouth (been there, done that, too!). Patience, my friend. Patience. When cool, put the nuts in a freezer bag, into the freezer and you’re done. I have also done this in a toaster oven, when I am toasting less than a pound, say maybe one or two cups. I think the nuts toast more quickly, so keep an eye on them. I have also, on occasion, toasted nuts in a cast iron skillet, but it’s my least preferred way of toasting nuts, as it’s very spotty.
You might also want to make your own mixed nut mixture to nibble with drinks! You might try the Nuts to Nibble!. Everyone likes to nibble somethings salty with a drink. I like to put out a bowl of these, when I want people to have a little something to nibble, but not kill their appetite completely…because dinner will be served!