Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Mistakes I've Made - Activated Almonds

Yesterday I mentioned that I made my own almond meal using my 'failed' almonds. How do you just fail a nut?

As I've mentioned in a previous post, you have to soak nuts for them to not stuff up your insides, so when I came back from Costco with a big bag of almonds the other day, I decided to try to soak them all at once and dehydrate them so that I can just eat them without worrying about soaking overnight.

The bag was emptied into a big bowl, the almonds were blanketed with water, and a splash of apple cider vinegar was stirred in. Ok, maybe a big splash of vinegar. I didn't really know how much to add so I just kinda poured it in.

And they sat in the cupboard with a tea towel lid overnight.

In the morning I rinsed them and preheated the oven to I think it was 150 degrees to start with. Once the almonds were patted dry with paper towels, I lined a few cookie trays with baking paper and spread out my now-expanded almonds between them because there were that many of them. I popped the trays in the oven like so and checked them every half hour. I advise you not to check this often; it makes you feel like your nuts have taken a lifetime and nothing has happened since you last visited.

An overwhelming aroma hit my face when I opened the oven the first time. And no, it was not the smell of almonds or of anything roasting. No, it was the smell of vinegar. Apple cider vinegar. And I copped a whiff of it every half hour I checked on the nuts. The lesson here to be learnt is only add as much vinegar is needed. I looked it up and found that it's generally 1 tbsp vinegar to 1 cup water. I probably put twice that much. I eventually got so sick of smelling vinegar that I shoved some sticks of rosemary in the trays just to try to cover the smell. The oven certainly smelled nice when you first opened it but you could still sense the touch of vinegar in there.

After hours and hours of drying out these poor nuts for I think it was 14 hours, and after turning them when I got bored of just checking on them, I'd gradually turned the heat down more and more because I was scared that they would cook. But then I got so bored and just wanted these almonds to be finally done. So I cranked up the heat and in the next half hour, the oven smelled the almonds.

Uh oh.

So I took them out and ate half of one to see what I'd done. It tasted like a roasted almond. I was really quite disappointed with myself that I couldn't keep them raw but my tongue, of course, very gladly accepted the problem and got to experience about ten more nuts. Logically, they had successfully dehydrated, but it was really weird because they were a light tan colour inside instead of white. It was really quite peculiar I thought.

I still have a batch of almonds to snack on, so I saved these almonds for cooking purposes, to make my almond meal taste better. What could possibly be better than activated, roasted almond meal? And it gives everything (that I've made so far) a pretty, almost glossy, golden colour.

Ok, so maybe I learnt two valuable lessons making these:
1. Don't go overboard with the vinegar when you soak
2. If you're meant to keep the temperature down, KEEP IT DOWN!

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