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Tips on Nut Selection
Some of us are not so picky about the nuts we eat. But for best quality, select clean, unshelled nuts free from splits, cracks, and holes.
Nuts in the shell should be heavy for their size, indicating a fresh, meaty kernel.
Me Not Picky!
Nutmeats that rattle in their shell are usually stale and/or dried out.
Tip: Unshelled nuts are not only fresher but cost less than shelled nuts.
Whether to buy unshelled or shelled nuts depends on how much time you have and the amount you need Pecans and walnuts are fairly easy to shell. You will need a heavy-duty hammer or nut cracker and plenty of extra time to shell black walnuts and hickories.
Crisp, plump, and meaty nutmeats indicate high quality; limp, rubbery or shriveled nutmeats indicate poor quality. Unless you plan to use nutmeats as a garnish, they do not need to be uniform in size, since most recipes will call for chopping.
Suppliers often sell cracked nuts in the shell in plastic bags. Remove cracked nuts from plastic bags immediately and spread them out on trays in an airy location until you can shell and store them properly. If left in plastic bags, cracked nuts are susceptible to mold growth. Return or discard any nuts showing mold growth.
Most nuts in the regular supermarket have been roasted in industrial oils that range from cottonseed, to sunflower, to peanut oil. Typically the labels say and/or, so it could even be soy oil. Just keep in mind that manufacturer’s most likely use what is cheapest.
If you are selecting nut for baking you want to look for dry roasted or raw. Dry roasted can usually be found for macadamias and unshelled pistachios. Almonds too, but be sure to read the labels carefully before you select a brand so that you know what you are buying.
The best place to get nuts that are free of unhealthy manufactured oils, is the baking aisle rather than the snack aisle of your local grocery store. Pine nuts, walnuts, and pecans can often be found in their raw or dry roasted state along with slivered and sliced almonds. You may want to take a whiff of the package to make sure they haven’t gone rancid as these tend to sit on the shelves a bit longer depending on how busy your supermarket is.
To get organic raw nuts and seeds, your best bet is the health food stores, but again, be very sure to read labels.
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