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Old 01-16-2008, 01:53 PM   #1
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Toast or chop nuts first?

I like to always toast nuts before using them. But when a recipe calls for chopped nuts, my question is: do you chop first or toast first? I would imagine chopping first exposes more surface area to the heat, so would they burn faster?

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Old 01-16-2008, 01:55 PM   #2
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I usually chop mine first because, as you observe, there's more surface area to get toasted. Never had a problem with burning. Just keep an eye on the nuts as they toast.
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Old 01-16-2008, 02:50 PM   #3
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I agree. They will toast faster and more complete if chopped. They can also dry out faster if chopped.
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Old 01-16-2008, 07:48 PM   #4
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If properly dried they can be grated / chopped without toasting. For baking they are toasted in the butter that's part of the dough containing the nuts.
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Old 01-16-2008, 09:27 PM   #5
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Sometimes I like to toast first, more than I need. I then freeze the reserve for another time then I chop or not for what I need.
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Old 01-16-2008, 09:38 PM   #6
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I chop mine first.
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Old 01-16-2008, 10:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justplainbill
If properly dried they can be grated / chopped without toasting. For baking they are toasted in the butter that's part of the dough containing the nuts.
I've never had a problem grating or chopping nuts that were not dried - fresh out of the shell! The reason for roasting nuts is not for grating or chopping ability - it's for generating new flavors from the amino acids and sugars reacting under heat to create new compounds - a result of Maillard Browning Reactions.

Now, back to the original question ... I do both depending on the depth of flavor I want to develop. I generally toast nuts before grinding/chopping - but if I don't have as much as called for in the recipe I will carefully toast chopped nuts (so they don't burn) to intensify the flavor even more to make up for the lack of quantity.
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Old 01-17-2008, 05:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael in FtW View Post
I've never had a problem grating or chopping nuts that were not dried - fresh out of the shell! The reason for roasting nuts is not for grating or chopping ability - it's for generating new flavors from the amino acids and sugars reacting under heat to create new compounds - a result of Maillard Browning Reactions.

Now, back to the original question ... I do both depending on the depth of flavor I want to develop. I generally toast nuts before grinding/chopping - but if I don't have as much as called for in the recipe I will carefully toast chopped nuts (so they don't burn) to intensify the flavor even more to make up for the lack of quantity.
Fresh off the tree / bush nuts can be quite moist. The harvester / processor dries the nuts for you.
Now back to your doing both ... Many raw ingredients taste different after they are subjected to heat.
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Old 01-17-2008, 07:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael in FtW
I've never had a problem grating or chopping nuts that were not dried - fresh out of the shell!
Nor have I....Nor have I heard of a harvester/grower/processor drying nuts. One of my neighbors has 600 acres of pecans trees...He doesn't own any type fo drying equipment. The pecans I pick up off of my 10 trees, aren't dried either. I have no problem chopping/grating/slicing or dicing them right out of the shell. The moisture in pecans is oil....and that's a good thing. As for roasting/toasting..what ever the recipe calls for.
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Old 01-17-2008, 08:40 AM   #10
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Michigan State University Extension
Preserving Food Safely - 01600671
08/03/99
NUTS-DRYING
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Spread nuts thinly on trays or screens and allow them
to dry gradually from exposure to a gentle but steady air
flow. A clean, cool, dry porch or attic is ideal. Nuts
dried this way will not mold. Drying times varies with nut
variety. Most varieties will need several weeks for proper
drying. All nuts except chestnuts contain a large amount of
oil which prevents them from drying out completely. Because
of their high water and carbohydrate content, chestnuts dry
in 3 to 7 days. Drying for longer will cause chestnuts to
become hard and inedible.
Dryness test:
-Nutmeats of pecan, walnuts, filberts and hickory nuts
should shake freely in their shells.
-Nutmeats should be light-colored and break with a
sharp snap when bent or bitten.
-Taste should be light-flavored.
-Note: Excessive drying will cause nut shell to crack.
Alternative drying methods:
Small amounts of nuts in the shell can be dried in a
furnace room or even on trays on a radiator providing the
temperature do not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit will affect flavor
and shorten storage life. Nuts will be dry in 24 to 48
hours.
Nuts in the shell can also be dried in a food
dehydrator if the temperature can be adjusted low enough.
Follow manufacturer's directions. Unshelled nuts will dry
in 8 to 10 hours in a food dehydrator.
Oven drying is not recommended for unshelled nuts as it
is difficult to keep the temperature low enough and air
circulation is poor.


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