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Using Raw Nuts Instead of Roasted Nuts in Baking
Raw nuts add flavor and nutrition
After many years of perfecting my biscotti recipe, I have learned that the best results I get from baking with nuts, is by using raw nuts instead of roasted nuts. Roasted nuts are much easier to find in grocery stores, but raw nuts are a better choice for several reasons.
The biggest reason for using raw nuts in baking is that raw nuts taste much better in the finished bakery product. When it comes to baking, each ingredient has its purpose, and nuts add protein, crunch, and flavor to your baked goods.
The second reason for adding raw nuts to your baking is that the raw nuts are much healthier. With raw nuts, you control exactly what is going into your baking. Raw nuts are just the nuts with no added ingredients like oil and salt. With roasted nuts, the nuts have been roasted in some sort of oil, and often have added salt. That means that you are adding useless calories, salt, and and unknown flavor to your baking.
Finding raw nuts
If you live in or near a city, then you can probably find raw nuts fairly easily in your area. The easiest raw nuts to find in a regular grocery store are raw almonds. Almonds seem to be universally loved and used by many cultures, and you can often find them in any grocery store. However, if your grocery store does not carry raw nuts, then you have to find either a health food store, or a health food grocery store like Whole Foods that carries organic and more healthy versions of food. Another option is an alternative grocery store like Trader Joe's where you can find lots of interesting gourmet food choices at lower prices. As a matter of fact, I do buy a lot of my raw nuts at Trader Joe's when they have them in stock.
After almonds, hazelnuts (filberts) and cashews are usually the next most popular raw nuts that you will find. However, cashews are not suited for most baking recipes. Other nuts, raw pistachios, raw walnuts, raw macadamia nuts, raw peanuts, and raw pecans are a little bit harder to find. Amazon does have sources for these raw nuts. I have provided links in this article.
Raw Nuts in Bulk
Using raw nuts in baking
Raw nuts do not usually look all that different from their roasted versions. Raw nuts may be slightly lighter in color. However, the flavor difference is immense. Even the conventionally grown raw nuts that I buy at Trader Joe's taste much better than the organically grown roasted nuts that I can find at a grocery store or Whole Foods store.
You can add raw nuts in their raw state into any recipe. You can eat raw nuts by themselves without doing anything to them. However, I prefer to lightly toast the raw nuts in my oven before using them to bake.
To toast the nuts, I set my oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit to preheat it. Then I put the nuts on a baking sheet and spread them out. Depending on the size of the nuts, I bake them at 350 for between 5 to 9 minutes. Raw pistachios are baked for 5 minutes. Raw almonds and hazelnuts are baked for 9 minutes.
Then I let them cool before including them in any baking recipe.
Storing raw nuts
Either raw or toasted, raw nuts store on a room temperature shelf for months, if not longer. Raw nuts make a great snack for children, and they never really last very long in my house. But you can freeze nuts, but you will lose a bit of flavor, and they do take on moisture during freezing. So unless you wont be using them for over a year, I wouldn't bother freezing them.
Keep nuts in an airtight container on your shelf, and if you are worried about bugs, then add a dried bay leaf in your container to keep any pests away.
You can store nuts whole, chopped, or ground, but just like coffee beans, nuts taste better if you chop them immediately before using them. Once you chop them, they can take on moisture and flavors from the air that will affect their taste.
Enhancing nut flavors in baking
You can add even more nut flavor to your baking by also adding a complimentary nut flavored extract or liqueur to your recipe when you add the raw nuts. For example, you can add Amaretto with almonds, and Frangelico with hazelnuts. Either of these will also taste good with other raw nuts.
With or without the nut flavored liqueurs, you will taste a noticeable difference if you switch from roasted to raw nuts in your baking recipes.
Baking with Nuts Resources
You can also grind nuts into a meal for inclusion as part of a recipes in place of flour. You can't eliminate flour completely but adding nuts give the item you are baking more protein.
More ingredients tips
- Using Liqueur and Alcohol to Flavor Baking Instead of Extracts
One of the lessons that I have learned, is that you can get much more depth of flavor in a recipe by using a liqueur instead of an extract for flavor.
© 2011 Paula Atwell