All you need to know about … nuts
Are you nuts about nuts? With a range of varieties available, nuts bring crunch, flavour and texture to everything from satays to sweet biscuits. Naturally healthy, containing monounsaturated fats, omega-3, fibre and vitamin E, they are excellent as a snack and as an ingredient. We’ve taken a look at ten of the most popular types of nuts to learn more about their unique characteristics.
If you’re a fan of Nutella you’ll know that hazelnuts and chocolate are a perfect pairing. Hazelnuts are round in shape and although they can be eaten raw, roasting them really enhances their flavour. A winning ingredient in sweet baked dishes, especially those that also feature chocolate, they also work well in salads where they bring a lovely texture and woodsy flavour.
With a very mild flavour, cashews are perfect for adding crunch to recipes. They are widely used in a variety of international cuisines including Thai, Indian and Chinese where they bring a textural element without an overpowering flavour.
Pistachios originated in Central Asia and the Middle East. They are a member of the cashew family and although we know them as a nut, they are actually the seed of a fruit that grows in bunches like grapes. Loved in cooking for their bright green colour that comes from chlorophyll, they are popular in cakes, ice-cream and dishes such as baklava and halva.
Arguably the most popular nut for baking, walnuts have a slightly bitter, dry taste that works well as a complement to sweet flavours. One of the few nuts that are widely available in their shell, walnuts make a great addition to cakes, biscuits, bread, salads, pies and pasta.
Our home-grown hero, macadamias are native to Australia, specifically north-eastern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland. Introduced to Hawaii in the 1880s it was here that macadamias were first produced on a commercial scale. With their rich, buttery flavour macadamias are delicious eaten raw but are also popular as an ingredient sweet and savoury dishes.
Another nut that’s not a nut; peanuts are technically legumes but are considered nuts due to their culinary usage. Popular for their affordability and versatility, peanuts are perfect for snacking and cooking and are widely used in savoury and sweet dishes, as well as for making peanut butter.
Whole, sliced, slivered, blanched, with skin, without skin, there seems to be an endless array of ways to buy almonds and that’s due to their popularity as a cooking ingredient. Their mild flavour makes them a natural addition to many recipes, whether in nut form or ground into almond flour. Almond milk has become a leading plant-based alternative to dairy.
One of the largest types of nuts and native to Brazil, these have a mild-flavour and are popular in confectionery and baking. Often used as a decoration on fruit cakes because of their shape and size, they can also be ground to add to desserts.
Grown on pine trees, these small beige coloured nuts have a mild pine flavour. A key ingredient in pesto, they are also popular toasted and used in pasta recipes and are a natural winner with fish dishes.
Naturally sweet, these larger nuts are most often used in baking. Pecan pie anyone? A native of North America, they feature prominently in American dishes and are a key ingredient in traditional Southern style cooking.