If you have been trying to eat healthily, you may already be aware of the many health benefits of eating nuts on a regular basis. They are full of nutrients such as unsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and vitamin E. These nutrients help to foster heart health by preventing the buildup of plaque in the arteries, and fiber has the additional benefit of helping you feel fuller for longer. While their high-calorie content means you need to watch portions, nuts are still healthier and more satisfying than any other snack food available on the market.
While raw nuts are pretty good, toasted nuts are heavenly. When raw, nuts have a tendency to taste bland and waxy. When toasted to a golden brown, their flavor depth greatly increases, and the aroma is incredible. The texture of nuts that have been toasted is also very much improved. The reason nuts taste so much better after being toasted is because heat causes the natural oils within the nuts to be released. These oils are responsible for most of the flavor. The color of toasted nuts is also more visually appealing, and our perception of flavor is greatly influenced by what we see.
Toasting nuts can be a daunting task, however. It takes a bit of time and effort, and it is very easy to scorch them accidentally. So, what is the best way to toast nuts? Here are some techniques you can try right in your own kitchen.
In the Oven
When toasting nuts in the oven, it is best to toast them before chopping. The larger surface area of whole nuts makes it harder to scorch them. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil and place the nuts on it in a single layer. Once the oven has come up to temperature, put the baking sheet in and toast for 5 to 10 minutes. Look for them to turn a golden-brown color. Make sure to keep a close eye on them because, as previously mentioned, there is a very small margin for error. You may want to stir the nuts halfway through toasting to ensure even browning. Once they are golden brown, remove the pan from the oven and take the nuts off the sheet to allow them to cool. You can store these in the fridge for one to two weeks in a sealed container, or freeze them for up to three months.
For smaller batches, or to create an almost charred look, you may want to toast the nuts in a pan on the stovetop. Just like with the oven, you should wait until after toasting the nuts to chop them. Start with a heavy skillet, and put the burner on medium heat. Do not add any oil to the pan; it is best to dry-toast nuts since they will release oil when heated. Add the nuts and allow them to toast for one to two minutes. Make sure to toss or stir the nuts frequently so that they will toast evenly. Once toasted, remove the nuts from the pan and allow them to cool. Just like with oven toasting, the nuts can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to two weeks, and frozen for up to three months.
For a fast, easy, and mess-free way to toast nuts, simply use your microwave. This method works best with very small amounts, up to ½ a cup at most. For this method, nuts should be chopped before toasting. Place the nuts in a microwave-safe dish, and add just a dollop of oil or softened butter. Stir the nuts to coat them in the fat evenly. Adding oil or butter helps to speed up the toasting and browning process. Make sure the nuts are evenly spread and flat, then microwave them for one minute on high. Take them out to stir, then microwave again for another minute. Continue microwaving for one minute at a time, stirring after each minute of cooking, until the nuts appear toasted. Just as with the oven-toasted and stovetop-toasted nuts, these nuts can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks, and in the freezer for up to three months.