Go Nuts! How to Crack Almonds and Keep them Whole




Do you remember the days when people had bowls of shelled nuts on their coffee tables, along imagewith that little silver set of a nut cracker and a couple of “picks”?

Cracking nuts was a great project, as it took some time, thus preventing eating too many nuts in a single sitting. I think – though I could be wrong – the days of shelled nuts on coffee tables is long since over. Progress and a constant need for convenience has brought us bags of nuts already shelled. However, from time to time, shelled nuts can be really cheap. I mean, really cheap!

Over the summer, I picked up a one pound bag of shelled almonds on sale for $.99 thinking it would be a cost-effective way to get my almonds. What I didn’t think about, of course, is that I would eventually have to shell them. Minor oversight. Considering it is now November, you can say I didn’t get right on that.

Desperate for almonds over the weekend (okay, desperate may be an overstatement), I broke out the nutcracker and went to work. I am not crazy about digging broken pieces of nuts out of shells, so I thought I’d share my technique for shelling them that consistently delivers a whole almond.

1. Take the subject almond, and flip it onto the side that has a noticeable “seam.” You’ll see there is a side that is sort of rounded over, and a side that sort of looks like a seam. You want the side with the seam to be pointing up.

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2. Place the almond in the cracker with the fat end of the nut (I’d call this the top) in the nut cracker. The nut is mostly in the lower part of the shell, so you want to crack it at the top. This nutcracker has two different areas based on the size of the nut – I used the smaller portion for this.

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3. Press hard on the handles to put pressure on the top of the nut. Continue to press until you feel you have sufficiently opened the almond’s shell.

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You’ll see that it’ll open up from the bottom up, which prevents breaking the almond inside.

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5. The almond will pretty much fall out in your hand. This is exactly how it fell into my hand when I let it out of the vice of the nutcracker.

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So, how many almonds can you expect from a one pound bag? Not as many as you’d think. This bowl was pretty much full of shells, and I netted six ounces of nuts. (The scale was set to zero with just the container on it before this).

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Not bad for a $.99 investment, but, took some effort to get here.

On a side note, the shells can go in your compost bin, of course, as they provide good “spacer” material, much like woodchips or straw.

Happy shelling!

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