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Nut Basics


Whether they're whole, chopped, or ground, nuts add nutrition and flavor to meals and dishes. Their high oil content, however, negates some of the benefits of their high protein content.

Nut varieties include almond, brazil, cashew, chestnut, coconut, hazelnut (or filbert), macadamia, peanut, pecan, pine (or pignoli), pistachio, and walnut, both black and English. Most varieties can be bought whole, chopped, or ground; salted or unsalted; roasted or spiced. Generally, whole, unshelled nuts are the least expensive.

Most unshelled nuts will keep at room temperature for up to six months, but shelled nuts should be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer to keep them from becoming rancid. Throw out any that have mold.

  • To remove thin skins, place the nuts on a baking sheet and bake them in a preheated 350-degree oven until the skins begin to flake off. This will vary with the variety. Nuts can easily burn, so watch them closely. Remove them from the oven, wrap them in a heavy towel, and rub them against the towel to remove as much of the skins as possible.
  • To grind nuts, use a nut grater or grinder and grind only a few nuts at a time to prevent them from becoming oily.
  • To toast nuts, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in a preheated 350-degree oven until very lightly browned. Watch them closely. Depending on the variety, this should take from 3 to 10 minutes. Use them immediately or store them in a covered container in the refrigerator.

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