Nuts are best stored in a cool and dark place and because they contain a high percentage of oil, they can become rancid very quickly.
Nuts can be purchased whole, in the shell or without, chopped, ground, flaked and even ready made in a paste. They can also be purchased ready sweetened, spiced or salted. Whenever possible, I like them in their natural state as you achieve an over all better taste. I usually lightly roast them, then add the spices or herbs I like, add salt where necessary. Personally, I rarely coat them in sugar.
Locally these are the nuts readily available in more shops and supermarkets:
- Almonds, whole, flaked, ground and as a sweetened paste (marzipan)
- Brazil nuts can be purchased in the shell or without.
- Chestnuts are available in their natural state and need to be roasted. Around Christmas they are available in net sacks, peeled and dehydrated and you will need to soak them before use. You can also find them in cans as a puree, ready-to-eat and sealed in a vacuum bag and you can also find the glace chestnuts known as maron glace.
- Coconut can be found, shredded, chipped, flaked and ground. They can also come sweetened or in their raw state. This is a very versatile nut and it can be used in desserts, cakes, soups and curries if you are looking for an oriental twist. Coconut can also be purchased whole from the greengrocer.
- Hazelnuts, after peanuts, are probably the most economical nut in the marketplace here. They are best lightly toasted before use. You are also able to find them ground and as in the same case as ground almonds, they can be used as a flour substitute, ideal for those on gluten free diets.
- Macadamia nuts are less common on the island and not very often used as a recipe ingredient. They are usually available without a shell, whole, and I prefer the ones that are in their natural state with no added spices or flavours.
- Pecan nuts are similar to walnuts but they are darker when peeled, they are more compact than a walnut and uniform in appearance. They are more expensive than walnuts but have a distinctive flavour which is delicious and as opposed to walnuts, they never leave a bitter aftertaste.
- Pine nuts are toasted to enhance their delicate flavour. They are a great accompaniment to top salads and savory bakes and are traditionally used to make pestos. For those wishing to be economical, pine nuts can be swapped with a cheaper nut of your preference.
- Pistachios come in a shell or without, salted or natural. The attractive green colour of the kernel makes it a great ingredient to decorate desserts.
- Walnuts are very commonly used on the island. Care when storing them at home is important as if they are kept for a long time, they tend to develop a bitter taste. You are able to find walnuts with no additives, in their shells completely unpolished too. It makes a great difference to the taste.
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