Sunday, November 24, 2013

Salting my nuts

Ok, that title sounds a lot dirtier than it really should.

A little back story first: I love pistachios. Like seriously love them. If there's nuts in my mouth, they'd better be wrinkled and green or someone's got some explaining to do!

But there's one thing I don't love about pistachios: the shells. For some completely inexplicable reason, someone at some point decided that pistachios, unlike virtually every other nut on the planet, must only be sold in-shell. Now these days they're thankfully no longer dyed neon red, but pre-shelled pistachios are still as rare as chicken teeth.

So it was with great joy that I discovered that Trader Joe's sells pre-shelled pistachios. Hurray! I bought a bag, brought it home, and further discovered that they're unsalted pre-shelled pistachios. Slightly less hurray.

Now the trouble with unsalted nuts is that if you try to just add salt you end up with a bowl full of unsalted nuts with a pile of salt at the bottom. Similarly if you follow the internet's advice and coat the nuts with oil before salting, you'll just end up with salty, greasy fingers.

The answer is that we need the salt to crystallize on the nuts themselves. To do that, it's really just a simple matter of making an over saturated solution of saltwater by mixing a good heaping tablespoon of salt with just enough water to make it liquidy, then tossing that with the nuts.

Of course now we have well salted but entirely too soggy nuts, and one must never tolerate having soggy nuts. So it's onto a baking sheet and into the oven on the lowest setting for an hour or three, stirring occasionally to keep things drying evenly.

And at the end of this long, arduous journey, we have a nice pile of well salted, pre-shelled pistachios. Mmm.