7 Mistakes To Avoid While Cooking With Nuts
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Nuts added to cooking are not new; they are sometimes crucial for adding flavour, texture, and depth to certain dishes. The role of nuts in culinary traditions is very old, and from main course dishes to desserts, nuts can elevate any dish to a higher ground. However, despite their popularity and versatility, incorporating nuts into recipes can sometimes be difficult due to inadequate knowledge, which can lead to disappointing outcomes.

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The choice of cooking method can also significantly impact the flavour and texture of nuts. Nuts are prone to rancidity due to their high-fat content, and exposure to air, light, and heat can accelerate the process of getting stale. Here are seven common mistakes that one may make while handling nuts, and you should try to avoid them.

Not Toasting

Nuts must be toasted when you wanna give your dishes that crunchy texture. Not toasting them is a common mistake that most people make, and you should not do it. The process of toasting enhances the natural oils present in the nuts, elevating the overall flavour and keeping the crunch of the nuts intact even when added to dishes with moisture. When you add nuts to your salad, soup toppings or as snacks, make sure you toast them to have a better and crunchy texture. 

Using Old Nuts

Using old nuts in cooking can lead to a disappointing culinary experience. As nuts age, they can become rancid, imparting an unpleasant taste and odour to your dishes. This can ruin the flavour profile you're aiming for, whether you're making savoury dishes like salads or stir-fries or indulging in sweet treats like cookies or cakes. To avoid this mistake, always ensure your nuts are fresh before incorporating them into your recipes.

Not Removing The Skins

The skins over the nuts can often lead to a bitter aftertaste, which can interfere with the actual flavours of the dish. For example, nuts like hazelnut, walnut, etc skins are quite bitter. Hence, while blending them for dipping sauces or spreads, make sure you remove their skins. 

Not Soaking

Soaking is also a crucial procedure one must follow while planning to add nuts to the gravies to thicken it. Nuts can be a great and healthy thickener, but the nuts should be soft enough to blend into a smooth paste, and for the smooth, velvety texture, the process of soaking is important. Moreover, soaking it is also said to remove any toxic enzymes present in it. If you are making butter chicken or any such dishes that include nuts, make sure you leave them to soak in water for at least a few hours. 

Using Salted Nuts

Not soaking nuts before cooking is a common mistake to avoid. Soaking nuts can enhance their texture, flavour, and digestibility. It softens them, making blending or chopping for recipes like nut butter or baked goods easier. Additionally, soaking helps remove enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid, which can interfere with nutrient absorption. Skipping this step may result in a less desirable texture and taste in your dishes, as well as potential digestive discomfort.

Toasting In Extra Fat

Even though toasting nuts can elevate their natural flavours, over-toasting or toasting in extra fat can cause the nuts to get bitter and, in some cases, burn, too. Firstly, nuts have their own natural oils, which cause the nutty flavour. Hence, when you try to add more oil and fry them, a small amount of negligence can cause the nuts to get burnt. Hence, if you ever need to fry them in butter or ghee, make sure you keep stirring until they get slightly brown and immediately take them off the heat. 

Using Pre-chopped Nuts

Choosing packaged pre-chopped nuts may seem convenient, especially in today's hustling lives. However, these pre-chopped nuts are a waste of money for various reasons. First, due to harsh chopping and packing, the natural oils get dried up, and moreover, there is a higher chance of stale nuts in the packets due to improper packaging. Hence, it is highly suggested that you chop your nuts fresh and use them in cooking.