Totally Nuts.Posted: October 2, 2012
Despite how it looks like I eat all this fancy food.. or, I eat all this food.. or, okay, I try to make it sound like I live solely on sugar, salt and butter.. it’s a lie. I actually eat very little of what I research and write about.
That isn’t to say that I don’t eat things like Mallomars and Waffle House, but rather I eat a bite or two here and there and settle in with things that grow out of the ground. I eat plenty of boring fruits and vegetables punctuated by my favorite teardrop shaped food, the almond. Ah yes, the almond. Its shaped like a tiny drop of regret for all those pats of butter that I have chosen not to eat. But my heart thanks me like a kid with a birthday bike. And that, I suppose, makes it kind of worth it.
Anyways, as you can gather, I eat a lot of nuts.
Eating healthy and eating well isn’t all it’s cracked up to be though. Sure, I may live to be a thousand with my low saturated fat no fun diet, but I’ll probably die from shock when I hit the checkout stand and realize that I just spent $37 on a bag full of teardrop shaped regrets someday. It’s a real problem that I’m futureworrying about. (I mean, in 2078 this thing isn’t going to curate itself, you know.) Thus, I’m always on the hunt for cheaper nut suppliers.
Fortunately for me, my local
rabbit health food store has my back. In my exhaustive searches all over lower New York, this tiny hole in the wall has the cheapest almonds in town if you buy in bulk. Every week, I go in and load up on another pound or two of the sweet raw ones in the bin, note the bland flavor and wait for my heart to thank me again. Every week, I’m nonplussed with the averagely sweet somewhat soft almonds in my hand. There’s no fancy wasabi soy sauce salt covering these things. No cinnamon sugar crunchies. Almonds. Juuuust… almonds. My eyes sometimes tear with regret while my heart weeps for joy.
Anyways, one day I decided that I wanted to know how a dry roasted nut was made after a handful of (even cheaper) dry roasted peanuts tickled my palate with their odd tasting garlicky sweetness. Compared to my usual nut stocks, these things fairly danced on my tongue with hints of celery salt and sugar. They were gross. They were crunchy. They were seriously hitting the spot. Was this some type of Planter’s alchemy going on here? Some weird sous vide slash dehydrator thing?
Not at all. A few queries later, I discovered that dry roasted nuts are about the easiest thing that you could ever make. For example, if you have ever roasted pumpkin seeds around this time of year then congratulations, you could put Planter’s out of business. Dry roasting simply means “roasted without oil”. Anyone could do it.
HOWEVER, I wanted the nuts like I sometimes treated myself to when I’m feeling flush. Don’t lie, you’ve probably eaten them too. I’m talking about the fancy ones with jalapeno barbeque spicy stuff or salt and vinegar tangy stuff on them. Could average humans do that too?
Uh huh. Again, super easy. The key to creating a flavorful dry roasted nut is simply in brining the nut before roasting, ideally in a vacuum. That way whatever flavor you’re going for is jam packed in the nut before it even hits your oven. Flavor exploding in every crunchy bit! Almond Xtreme!!! I tried it myself.
Depending on your level of interest, you could try canning the nut that you want to brine in a hot water bath to create the desired vacuum effect or you could (like me) go lazy and just dump everything in a bowl while throwing caution to the wind. (Admittedly, I actually forgot about mine for a few days.) If you decide to can your nuts before roasting them, be sure to practice safe canning procedures and make sure that your brine is acidic enough to inhibit mold growth. If you’re lazy (like me), just make sure that you have a few extra hours to do this project with.
To make your own flavor packkkked!!! nuts, simply create a 1:1 saltwater brine and throw the nuts in to make sure that everything is covered. Then cover your container and let it sit out on a counter or in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally. Depending on the softness and fat content of the nut you choose to use, the brining process may be only a few hours (like in the case of cashews) or up to overnight (like almonds). With canning, the results may be similar with timing, perhaps even shorter.
Once your nuts are brined sufficiently, all you need to do is drain them, dry them lightly, toss with any additional dry herbs or spices that will not melt (e.g. no sugar) and dry them in a low heat oven on a cookie sheet or lay them out in a food dehydrator. I suggest a 250 degree oven for about 2 hours, stirring at 15 minute intervals. Dehydrator times may vary depending on the model and volume of nuts roasted.
And that’s it. No rocket science, no fancy food chemistry. Dry roasting nuts is about as hard to do as making toast. So now my entire body skips a beat with joy, knowing that I have cheap options to keep me living forever. Which means endless posts about cooking and eating forevermore. Now whose eyes well up with teardrop shapes of regret? Not yours, right?