By Steven Edholm
NOTE: Bay nuts must be properly roasted to be edible to humans. In spite of our best efforts to the contrary, we still commonly encounter people who are not roasting their bay nuts properly. Most commonly, the nuts are not dried before roasting. The second most common problem is roasting too cool. The toxicity of unroasted bay nuts is unknown, but they are probably not good for you. A tickling irritation in the back of the throat, almost like a burning sensation, is indicative of inadequate roasting. Please read and follow directions.)
Bay nut season is early this year. I usually find myself harvesting them around thanksgiving, but they’re dropping all over the place and have been for a while. Roasting bay nuts in an oven is tricky. They require very frequent stirring and because it is only practical to stir the nuts every 2 to 3 minutes, they often roast unevenly. It has always been my feeling that the nuts should be kept in more or less continuous motion in order to roast more evenly, just as when roasting coffee. I’ve even thought about approaching a coffee roasting company to see if I could try using their equipment, or maybe building some type of makeshift roaster that would keep the beans moving constantly.
Last year we acquired a popcorn popper here at Turkeysong for roasting coffee beans. This is the type with a crank handle on top and a wire inside that stirs the popcorn. They work really great for popcorn and roasting coffee beans. I’ve used it a number of times now to roast bay nuts, and it seems to work really well. At this point I’m fairly well convinced that it works better than the oven. A reader also contacted us recently saying that he has been using one too and liked the results, so I think we’re all on to something. (more…)