First things first, we'd like to give a special thanks to Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruits for providing us with the raw cashews for this post! They have a huge selection of nuts and dried fruits available in bulk, and their prices are much better than other dealers I've seen online; so definitely check out their website after you're finished reading this post.
What Is Dry Roasting?
Dry roasting is simply the process of roasting without added liquids, oils, etc... Essentially, the hot air, or dry heat, is all that's cooking the food. Certain foods, like nuts and seeds, are more commonly dry roasted than other foods, like fruits and vegetables. While dry roasting is certainly a straight forward process, it's still good to know the best methods and techniques, especially when roasting nuts.
It may seem counter intuitive, but it's best to soak your raw nuts before dry roasting them. Soaking the nuts in a brine neutralizes phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors in the nuts, which makes them easier to digest. It also seems to give them a better flavor and texture when they come out of the oven.
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Another important dry roasting technique is stirring. You should frequently stir your nuts as they roast – about once every 15 to 20 minutes – to ensure even browning all the way around. Since dry roasting takes a fairly long time, stirring the nuts may seem like an annoying task but it's well worth it. The last thing you want is a nut that's dark brown and crunchy on one side, while pale and soft on the other.
The Benefits of Buying Raw Nuts in Bulk and Dry Roasting Them Yourself
There are many benefits to buying raw nuts in bulk and dry roasting them yourself. Firstly, it's a great way to save money. When you buy roasted nuts in a little tin at the store, you're paying a huge markup. You might be paying up to twice as much or more! Secondly, dry roasting nuts at home is healthier than buying the prepackaged ones that are loaded with oil and salt. Lastly, when you roast your nuts at home, you can have complete control over them. You can season them as little or as much as you want, with any kind of spices and flavors you desire.
I remember this one time I bought a can of Planter's dry roasted peanuts. They were some anniversary edition, and they were buy-one-get-one, so I figured what the heck. After eating about half of them, Taryn pointed out to me that they contained gelatin – ??? I was shocked! Why on Earth would dry roasted peanuts contain gelatin? I digress...
The point is, when you prepare your nuts yourself, you know exactly what's on them; there are no surprises.
I also like buying raw nuts in bulk so I always have the option of using them either raw or dry roasted. You never know when a recipe might call for one or the other. You can always roast a nut but you can't un-roast a nut.