“Roasting” Nuts in the Microwave

Filed in Gather Food Essential by on April 24, 2006 0 Comments

Ack! Blasphemy!  Nuts are wholesome, and microwaves are modern monstrosities.  How dare I bombard the poor things with evil rays. 

Watch me.

Pre-roasted nuts in bags and cans are almost by definition stale, and the injury is compounded by the stiff fee we pay for the “added value” of having someone do our roasting for us.  For years now, I’ve bought the much-less-expensive raw nuts and roasted them at home.

(My thanks to Kevin for his comment below, pointing out you can’t actually roast nuts in a microwave.  Point well taken.)

I’ve tried roasting them in the oven, but I can’t really tell how long to leave them in.  I have no patience for recipes with temperature and duration.  Worse yet, I forget and they become charcoal.

I then hit on a better method of skillet-roasting, and this I stuck with for years.  No oil is necessary.  You just have to shake and flip the nuts so they don’t burn too much.  I found letting them sit in the pan for 60 seconds between flips would work just fine, but again – darn it – I’d forget.  So I’d be walking around the house doing other tasks, all the time muttering my mantra, “nuts . . . nuts . . . nuts”.

The problem with the skillet was the amount of heat I had to apply to the outside of a nut to roast the inside invariably burnt some of the nuts.   So I hit on the idea one day to preheat them in the microwave.

Once I started with the microwave it became very clear it was more than a preheating device, and the entire process could be done there very nicely.  The microwaves heat the entire nut in a uniform manner.  As long as you pull it out and stir the nuts from time to time, everything will be fine.

Here’s what I do. 

I put between 16 and 24 ounces of nuts in a Pyrex bowl.  This I microwave on high for two minutes. I take it out, stir it well and return for a minute, stir, return for a minute, stir, and so on until I can hear the naturally-occurring oil in the nuts “sizzling”. 

At this point you can add flavorings.  For traditional nuts, add a touch of peanut oil – about a teaspoon – just enough so salt will stick to the nuts. 

What I really prefer is to put a quarter cup of soy sauce in the microwave, heat it to boiling and then add it to the sizzling nuts. Be careful of the serious steam as you stir the nuts. They will soon eliminate the moisture and acquire a tasty coating.  You will probably need to return the nuts to the microwave one more minute just to finish drying them out.

For a variation, try a quarter cup of Ketjap Sambal, Indian Garlic Pickle, or some other sweet or hot chutney.

If you prefer to move the sizzling nuts to a pan and finish them there before adding the flavorings, that’s a perfectly fine idea.

Final notes.  As the nuts get hot, so will the Pyrex.  Use good hot pads so as not to burn your hands.  Never run cold water into scalding Pyrex, as it will shatter in the most dangerous manner.

On that cheery note, happy roasting.



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1) I see a world that is not evil, but glorious. 2) My hope is that other musicians will find the songs I've posted here and want to perform and record them. 3) I'm a fool for yard sales. See a more thorough profile at http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.j

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