I was casting around for recipes on how to roast raw cashews, either in an oven or on a stove. The ingredient list on a typical can of cashews was starting to get me down, and nuts (in moderation) are both one of my favorite snacks and healthy, too.
(Tangent: I’m obsessing on ingredients on packages at the moment, as in the fewer the better. Like the package of frozen corn I bought the other day. It says: “Ingredients: Corn.” That is awesome. Now, the storebought cashews weren’t all that bad: cashews, various oils, and salt, but it was the combined vague ingredients plus unknown methods, really. That and I like doing stuff from scratch.)
The googling wasn’t going very well, or rather I had to do quite a bit of keyword finagling to find anything useful. I never did locate exactly what I was looking for, which is one reason I wanted to create this page: for other people who are googling for DIY roasted cashews.
One site I found was this Nuts page. Under the preparation section, they refer to “toasting” nuts, in the oven, on the stovetop, or in the microwave. So, using that as a starting point, I proceeded with an initial experiment.
(Tangent 2: my initial Google difficulties might have been a terminology issue, roasted vs toasted.)
- Oven preheated to 350degF (~175degC).
- One shallow baking pan or cookie sheet with outer lip.
- One pound (454g) raw cashews. (I bought a pound from Trader Joe’s. “Ingredients: Cashews.” Nice.)
- Salt (see below).
Pretty straightforward: spread cashews in a single layer over the pan (you might need to use more than one pan, depending on the size). Then cook for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are golden-brown. They can burn quickly, so keep an eye on them.
One other advantage to this process over pre-packaged is being able to control the amount of salt in it.
In a blind taste test from some
guinea pigs family members, popcorn salt and sea salt didn’t have significant taste differences. They did want a bit more salt in the initial batch, since I was cautious not to over-do it. So be sure to err on the lower side, since it’s way easier to add salt than take it off. :) I expect the popcorn salt, since it is finer, would cling to the nuts more readily, so you might want to experiment yourself. Plain ol’ table salt would work great, too.
After more experimentation, I came to realize the salt could use some help sticking to the cashews. The nut industry apparently uses a salt-flour mixture to increase adhesion, which is the powdery stuff you find at the bottom of a can. Instead, what you can do is use just a smidgen of oil lightly brushed on them after you take them out of the oven, then sprinkle with your preferred salt. Melted butter would also do, although you can imagine the already high fat+calorie content will be even heftier. Another option is something like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, which comes in handy spray form — I’ve noticed however if you spray it on too soon after taking the cashews out of the oven, the liquid tends to evaporate before you can get the salt on.
Which makes me wonder if you could use a small spray bottle with your oil of choice to get the best of both worlds. Might be worth a try!
A lot of the cashew-roasting (or cashew-toasting) recipes I came across in my searches were part of a dessert or other dish, and included coating them in oil or butter. While I’m sure this would significantly add to the taste sensation, the calorie and fat intake would also jump up in a dish already pretty dense with both.
Besides, cashews — whether toasted or roasted — taste awesome as is. :)
Check out that wholehealthmd.com nuts page in the preparation section for toasting on the stove and microwave. In the latter case, you can have a plate of toasted nuts in 3 minutes to go with your DVD popcorn.
And be sure to read through the comment section below, as visitors have had a bunch of cool ideas and variations.