Make Your Own Blanched Almonds
I love almonds in all of their forms: I love munching on them raw for a snack; I love using them in baking and I love them in savoury cooking. Many recipes call for blanched almonds, sliced almonds or almond flour. All of these products are widely available for purchase but if you have the time and inclination they’re also all very easy to make yourself.
I like to make my own blanched almonds simply because I really enjoy the process. For me, the easy, repetitious act of peeling and slicing almonds is rather meditative. Also, I find that my homemade blanched almonds are much fresher than the commercially prepared ones and they’re a lot more economical.
Blanching almonds is a great project for organized, do-ahead people. It’s an easy, albeit somewhat time-consuming and finicky project. If you’re not someone who would enjoy the process, or you simply don’t have the time, it’s probably best just to purchase them.
How to Blanch Almonds
Start with the freshest almonds you can buy. Purchase your almonds from a grocer that has a high turnover, as nuts dry out and can go rancid when they’re old.
Blanching almonds is super easy. Simply place your almonds in a pot of boiling water for one minute. Set a timer and don’t leave them in the water for any longer as the nuts absorb too much water and become soft. Strain and immediately rinse in cold water.
Pat dry with a clean tea towel or paper towel. You’ll see that the skins appear shriveled and puckered and they will have loosened nicely.
Then, simply remove the skins on each nut, one at a time. I love this part. If you have kids, it’s a great task to involve them in, as the almond “jackets” slide off so easily.
Place the blanched almonds on a cookie sheet lined with a clean tea towel or paper towel and cover lightly with a clean dry tea towel. You can use them immediately, but I like to air dry them for a few hours to allow some of the moisture to come out. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
- Place raw almonds in boiling water for 1 minute
- Strain and immediately rinse in cold water
- Pat dry with clean tea towel or paper towel
- Slide off loosened skins from each nut
- If not using immediately, place blanched almonds on a cookie sheet, cover loosely and allow them to air dry for a few hours (optional).
MakE Your Own Sliced Almonds
Whenever recipes call for a cup or less of sliced almonds, and I have blanched almonds on hand, I often make my own. It’s a delicate and potentially dangerous task, so do not attempt this if you are not completely confident in your knife skills.
To make sliced blanched almonds, all you need are some blanched almonds, a very sharp, thin-bladed, high-quality knife and very good knife skills. If you don’t have good knife skills, this project is not for you.
Very carefully and slowly slice each almond as thinly as you can. I find it quite meditative and before I know it, I usually have a quarter cup of sliced almonds ready to use.
If you need a large amount of sliced almonds, you’re probably better off buying them, as it is a finicky and somewhat time-consuming task. Making your own sliced almonds is especially great if you just need a couple handfuls or a few sprinkles for garnish. But I’ll happily slice up to a cup.
Make Your Own Almond Flour (Almond Meal)
The terms almond flour, almond meal and almond powder are generally used interchangeably. I have read in one or two places that almond flour technically has a finer grind than almond meal. However, even commercial brands labelled as almond flour can vary greatly in particle size. There doesn’t seem to be a uniform grind for what is called almond flour, almond meal or almond powder. In any case, I’ve used my homemade almond meal in all recipes calling for almond flour with excellent results.
To make your own almond meal, you’ll need a food processor or a specialized blender (such as a Vitamix). If you want light coloured almond flour, you must begin with blanched almonds (if you leave the skins on, you will have brown specks in your almond meal). Simply place your almonds, either blanched or raw with the skins still on (depending on what you require), in the food processor and process as finely as possible in short pulses, (as opposed to a continuous run, which can leave them oily). David Lebovitz suggests grinding only about one cup (120 g) of the nuts at a time along with 2 tablespoons of either the flour or the sugar from the recipe you are making. Use the weight equivalent of the nuts from the recipe to grind the right amount of almond meal. According to Lebovitz, the addition of at least 2 tablespoons of either flour or sugar helps keep the ground nuts from getting too oily.
Use your homemade almond meal in all recipes that call for almond flour. The only times I’ve noticed the coarser texture of homemade almond meal is when I make French macaroons or homemade almond paste. The texture is not quite as visibly smooth, but it doesn’t affect the flavour one bit.
It is possible to achieve a finer grind at home—simply pulse your almond meal further in small batches (along with a bit of the sugar from your recipe) using an electric spice grinder. This yields a much finer textured meal. However, this extra step adds quite a bit more time and labour to the process, so you’d have to weigh how important the finer texture is to your project. Finer almond flour does create a better textured French macaron, so I usually go the extra mile when I make them.
All photographs by madlyinlovewithlife ©2014 madlyinlovewithlife