© Denzil Green
We call many food items "nuts", and use them for all intents and purposes as nuts. Many "nuts", though aren't technically nuts at all.
Botanically, a Nut is a single-seed covered by a dry shell. The edible part is inside the shell. True Nuts are Nuts such as Acorns, Beechnuts, Chestnuts and Hazelnuts.
Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Butternuts, Hickory Nuts and Walnuts all grow inside a fruit, like the stone inside a cherry or a peach. They're actually a seed covered by a wet fruit covering, and that's why they're not true Nuts (they're actually what botanists call "drupes".)
Other things that we regard as Nuts, such as Cashews, Coconuts, Peanuts and Pine Nuts, aren't actually Nuts, either.
Nuts can be eaten out of hand as a snack food, used as an ingredient chopped or whole, pressed to yield oil, or ground into pastes. Food-wise, they provide both nutrition and taste.
Nuts can be regarded as a subsistence food for foragers, but in practice for the rest of us, they can be some of the pricier items on our shopping lists at grocery stores.
To toast Nuts, place them in a frying pan such as a cast-iron or a non-stick one, with nothing else in the pan (meaning no oil or butter), and heat them for a few minutes over a low heat, stirring them occasionally. Or, bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 F (175 C) for 10 minutes (shake a few times during that).
When chopping Nuts in blender or a food processor, if sugar is appropriate for what you are making, you can add a teaspoon or tablespoon of sugar to help prevent them sticking together. Flour will also do the trick.
To crush Nuts manually, put them between two pieces of waxed paper or in a plastic bag and roll with a rolling pin.
When cracking Nuts in their shells, be careful of flying pieces, especially with regard to your eyes.
5 oz peanuts or mixed nuts = 140g = 1 cup
3 3/4 oz pecans, halves = 105g = 1 cup
4 1/2 oz pecans or walnuts, chopped = 130g = 1 cup
4 1/2 oz walnuts, chopped = 130g = 1 cup
1 pound walnuts, in shell = 450g = 1 1/2 cups shelled
Literature & Lore
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-- Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709 – 13 December 1784) in 'Life of Johnson' by Boswell (1791).