Nuts, Nuts, and More Nuts

In a recent article written by Scott Smith for the Associated Press, he states that the soaring value and demand for California nut chops are making them a target for thieves, who are stealing them by the tractor truck load. This nut boom has led to farmers tearing out their vineyards and replacing them with nut producing trees. A truck’s cargo of nuts is valued at over $100,000.

You can find nuts and their products everywhere. Bags of peanuts are sold at ballgames and dishes of salted peanuts are on bars for patrons to enjoy. For years, children and adults have enjoyed listening to chestnuts pop open as they are roasted by an open fire during the Yuletide season. Any bakery will have showcases filled  with desserts, breads, pies, cookies, cakes and sticky buns that feature nuts. Without nuts, the number of flavors and types of sundae toppings found in ice cream shops would be limited.

Nuts offer flavor, texture, color and shapes to culinary preparations. Besides their nutritional value they add interest to salads, vegetables, stuffings and entrees. Most children love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but chopped nuts can be added to many other salad sandwiches like egg salad. They are a great addition to waffle or pancake  batters. Many candy bars offer a variety of nuts and of course there is the popular peanut brittle candy. In an expensive box of chocolates, many pieces will contain different types of nuts.

If you purchase nuts in their shell they will stay fresher longer and will be more reasonably priced. After removing the shells from almonds or pistachios, you may want to remove the inner skin too.  This can be easily accomplished by letting them set a minute or two in boiling water and then removing the skin by rubbing. Shelled nuts, stored in a tightly sealed container will last a long time if stored in a freezer. Nuts freeze exceptionally well.

Some nuts, like macadamia, are very expensive, but they are a value because of their taste and the benefits that you receive from their proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Most have a high fat contain, so are also high in calories. In fact, eating more than a handful of nuts before a meal, might spoil your appetite.

When nuts are used in a recipe, their presence should be known by your guests, as some people are highly allergic to them. Servers in restaurants should be aware of all menu items made with nut based products in order to inform customers who inquire.

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