The question :
“Why should I roast my own hazelnuts (or almonds, walnuts, pecans, et. all.) when I can buy them roasted at the store?
The answer :
Most seasoned home chefs and bakers know the importance of buying fresh nuts and seeds. They keep them in air-tight containers in the fridge to prevent their natural oils from going rancid. However, when I first began experimenting in the kitchen I didn’t get it. I, like so many other newbies, though that nuts couldn’t really spoil or go bad. At least it didn’t occur to me.
When I saw pre-packaged sachets of ground, roasted nuts at the market I thought it was just the way of the world. The fact that these nuts were often partially dehydrated in order to eliminate some of their natural oils (to inhibit spoilage) or that pre-ground nuts were often made from the less fresh, often slightly damaged of the harvest – well, I didn’t know it, or think of it. Not to mention the huge amount of time it would take that little sachet to make it to my kitchen after spending who knows how long on the grocery shelf, storage rooms, in-transit, and in the packing facility.
The proof of the pudding is often in my mouth.
Let me explain.
When I first began baking, I was using pre-roasted and pre-ground nuts from the grocery shelves. The cakes, cookies and breads were good (if I do say so myself), but it wasn’t until I read one passionate baker’s plea that everyone roast their own nuts* that I decided to give roasting my own a try.
The difference, as most of you know, was more than remarkable. Dare I even say, incredible? Yes, I think I will. Roasting your own nuts and seeds is so easy (and will make your kitchen smell so amazing!) that you must give it a try at least once.
Tomorrow’s recipe will require some ground, roasted hazelnuts, so let’s get roasting, shall we? Yes! Let’s!
You’re going to need one cup of ground, roasted hazelnuts for tomorrow’s recipe, but go ahead and roast more – you can use them in pasta (roasted hazelnuts are a staple in Italian cooking), in grain salads (I use them often in barley or quinoa salads) or by the handful (I admit to indulging while preparing this post!).
Roasted hazelnuts (or most any nut)
Heat your oven to 350°f or 180°c
Spread your hazelnuts out on a baking sheet .
Put them into the oven and check them after about 5 to 7 minutes. Don’t burn yourself now! Depending on the freshness and oil content of your nuts, they will need to go for about 5 to 15 minutes. I’ve found personally that the nuts I find need about 11 minutes. You will get a feel for this so please don’t be discouraged or intimidated – it’s ok if they are not super-roasted, so err on the side of under-done, rather than burnt.
Pour the nuts onto a kitchen towel (I usually lay the towel on a shallow baking dish or bowl to keep them from rolling all over the place). Wrap them up, let them sit a minute or two, then shake ‘em! Wrap the towel around them so it makes a sack and shake it for about a minute, rubbing the nuts against themselves. This will get the skins off for the most part. Some of the skins will stay on, and it’s ok, so please don’t worry. It’s really ok. When cooled, pour them into a glass jar and place in the refrigerator. Ta-da! You roasted your hazelnuts! Aren’t you proud?
Come back tomorrow for a weekend-appropriate recipe to put those hazelnuts to good use!
* said passionate person (a total stranger) actually saw me reaching for roasted, ground nuts at the grocery and scolded me. Told me to roast them myself. Thanks, stranger.