Ever since I was a little girl I have associated nuts with Christmas. Which is a bit odd given I love nuts all year round, and eat them nearly every day.
The Christmas association is because Santa used to always put whole nuts in our Christmas stocking, and it was always a lot of fun to crack the shells to get to the good bits! And to see who could do it while making the least amount of mess!
It was always a competition to see who could crack the most walnuts while leaving the little brain halves in-tact. A skill that improves with practice! I still set myself that challenge with walnuts today. I know, I should grow up a bit, but seriously, it’s fun to try!
The whole-nut-in-shell tradition seems to be disappearing as I looked to buy a packet of mixed whole nuts the other day and couldn’t find any. Which is a bit sad when you think of it. The flavour of a nut from a freshly cracked shell is so far superior to nuts that have been sitting in plastic bags for weeks, if not months.
I also associate these spiced nuts with Christmas. Probably because it’s the only time of year I make them. While I should make them more often, it’s really hard to just keep to eating a 30g portion a day! They are very addictive!
by Mel Kettle
What you need
- 5 cups of shelled nuts – I used a mix almonds, cashews, pecans, Brazil nuts, however macadamias and hazlenuts also work well
- 1 tbs butter
- 2tsp sea salt (I use a Celtic sea salt, but any good quality salt is suitable)
- 1/2 tbs brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1tbs fresh finely chopped rosemary
- 2 tsp cumin
What you do
Heat the oven to 180c and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then add the salt, sugar and spices, mix well.
Place the nuts all in a large bowl. Stir through the melted butter and spice mixture then spread the nuts onto the lined baking tray. Roast in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, stirring them at the 5 minute mark. Stay close as they can burn easily!
Remove from the heat and leave to cook – they will crisp up as the cool down. Store in an airtight container.
Do you eat nuts? When was the last time you cracked a nut from the shell to eat? Did you notice a difference in flavour and freshness?