How to Toast, Chop and Grind Nuts

mixed nuts

Many recipes are enhanced by the toasting of nuts, from breakfast cereals, bread, cookies, salads and desserts.

Learning how to toast nuts properly will add extra flavor to those dishes.

Toasting brings out their nuttiness adding depth of flavor while making them crunchier.    This gives a whole new level of flavor to baked goods and adds texture to salads and vegetable dishes.

There are several different methods for toasting nuts: a skillet, in the oven or in the microwave.  Walnuts, pecans, pistachios, macadamias and other nuts can all be toasted this way. 

What is the best method for chopping and grinding nuts?  Learn to make nut meal easily and quickly.

How to Toast Nuts in the Oven

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C / 325°F.

  2. Line a baking sheet with baking paper or a liner. This makes it easier to remove them later.

  3. Spread the nuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Lining the sheet with a sheet of baking paper will help to remove them later. Choose a baking pan with sides to prevent the nuts rolling off the pan.

  4. Bake in the oven for about 5 – 10 minutes until light brown in color and fragrant. The timing will depend on whether the nuts are whole, sliced, or slivered.

  5. Check the color of the nuts frequently and stir to redistribute them on the pan. This prevents them from burning and ensures even toasting, so important in many recipes.

  6. Take out of the oven and remove from the baking sheet immediately, otherwise they will continue to cook.


How to Toast Nuts in the Skillet

  1. Arrange the nuts in a single layer in a frypan with no added fat. Nuts contain their own natural oils, so there’s no need to add extra.

  2. Cook over a medium heat for 4 – 8 minutes or until they are golden brown. You will need to keep shaking the pan or stirring frequently to prevent them burning.

  3. Once cooked remove from the heat immediately so they don’t keep cooking.

toasting nuts in a skillet

Toasting in the Microwave

Place the nuts on a paper plate and spread evenly.

Microwave on high for 1 – 2 minutes.    Rotate the plate with a half turn, then continue cooking for a further 1 – 2 minutes.  Be aware the nuts won’t brown with this method but they will smell toasted.


How do you know when they are done?

Almonds and hazelnuts are done when they are golden brown.

Pecans and walnuts are done when fragrant and lightly colored.




How to Skin Almonds

To skin whole almonds, place them in a pot or a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over.    Set aside for 3 minutes then drain and leave to cool.  Once they are cool enough to handle, squeeze the almonds between your thumb and forefinger.  The nuts should easily slide out of their skins.    Allow the almonds to dry then toast as usual.




Chopping Nuts

What is the easiest way to chop or grind your nuts?   This will depend on the recipe and whether you need finely or coarsely chopped nuts.

Coarsely Chopped Nuts

A knife is still the best method here.   Use a heavy, sharp knife.  Place the nuts in a tight circle slightly smaller than the length of the knife’s blade.  Position the tip of the blade then rock the blade back and forth moving it over the nuts.  You will need to stop every now and then to gather the nuts together again.

Finely Chopped Nuts

A food processor is easier if you need your nuts more finely chopped.   Place a small amount of nuts in the processor and pulse several times.  It’s best to do this in small batches to ensure even chopping and in short bursts because it’s easy to go from chopped nuts to nut meal. 




How to Grind Nuts

grinding nuts

Grinding nuts in a food processor

  • Before you begin make sure the bowl is perfectly dry and the blade dry and at room temperature (not hot from being recently washed).
  • The nuts should be a room temperature otherwise you will end up with nut paste.  If toasting is required, allow to cool first.  Cold or frozen nuts should also be brought to room temperature.
  • Grind the nuts by using short pulses, stopping frequently to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • There is always the risk of over-working the nuts to a paste.   To prevent this add some sugar from the recipe, don’t add extra.

Grinding nuts in a nut mill 

Grind a small amount of nuts at a time to get an even texture.  Once you have achieved the correct texture, stop grinding, or you will have a paste.


Tips

If the recipe calls for chopped, toasted nuts, toast them first before chopping.


For cup measures, measure after chopping for a more accurate measurement.



» How to Toast Nuts



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