Roasting AlmondsFeb 4, 2005 · peterb · 3 minute read
Food and Drink
It’s a simple problem, with a simple solution.
The problem is that raw almonds are too sweet and unfocused to enjoy on their own, while most roasted almonds you can get at the store are dry and unenjoyable. Do not speak to me of the overpriced “Marcona” almonds sold to suckers at places like Whole Foods. They’re greasy and have all the character of frozen okra.
What you want to do is roast your own. Here’s how to do it. Equipment:
- 1 oven.
1 flat pan, such as a cookie sheet. Ingredients:
1 pound whole raw almonds.
a tablespoon or less of almond oil. Note: there’s a concoction called “almond oil” that really refers to an extract of bitter almonds. A small amount is enough to ruin any dish, and a spoonful on its own will cause intense pain and burning, and for all I know will kill you. Don’t use this stuff. I’m referring here to the true oil of sweet almonds, suitable for use in frying.
Lots of table salt. Don’t use kosher salt. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Take your raw almonds and spread them out on the cookie sheet. Pour some oil on the pan, and swish the almonds around the pan with a spatula until they’re all coated with a little oil. You can always add more oil if you didn’t use enough, so start sparingly – a teaspoon or so might be enough, if the almonds are small. Once they’re coated, grab a generous handful of salt and toss it over the almonds. No need to agitate them any further. Put the pan in the oven and go play Halo 2 for about a half an hour. When the kitchen starts smelling good, they’re nearly done.
Figuring out when they’re actually done is somewhat problematic. Roasting nuts is a tricky business. If you under-roast them, then they will taste raw, and you will have spent time and energy for no particular reason. As they approach “perfectly roasted,” they will taste better and better. Then, there is a magical, awful line across which the nuts move from “perfectly roasted” to “burnt and inedible” in a matter of seconds. Finding and avoiding that line is a matter of experience. The almonds will continue to roast for a bit after you remove them from the oven, so for your first attempts it’s probably better to take them out too soon rather than too late.
Once they’re out, take another big handful of salt and throw it over the almonds. The double-salting is one of my secrets to great almonds (the other is simply using almond oil, rather than the peanut or sunflower oils used to roast most commercially processed almonds). You can taste them at this point, but right out of the oven they will be soft and mealy, and not worth eating. Let them sit, and cool, and harden. When they are completely cool, transfer them to a jar, and enjoy.
Eat them however you want to. I like them with slices of apple, and oil-cured olives, and cheese.