Friday, 27 October 2017

How To Puff Your Seeds And Toast Your Nuts

the guilty suspects

Quinoa is quite the trendy little seed these days, isn't she?  Known by the Peruvians for a few thousand years, we are just catching up to her versatility and good-for-you-ness.  (That other trendy item- kale - remains no friend of mine - tee hee.)  So I made quinoa/cacao nib bars the other day.  The recipe called for puffed quinoa, which wasn't easy to find.  I didn't fancy an extra trip to the local Health store to get it, so I decided to make my own.  And the saga began...

I checked up some recipes on the Net; some said to wash and dry it before popping it; some said to dry it for half an hour, or an hour, or overnight.  Some said don't bother to wash it at all.  I went with not washing it.  I grabbed a small pan, threw in a bit of oil, let it get hot then tipped in the Peruvian quinoa I had bought at the Bulk Store (along with other items of interest.)

popping my quinoa in a hot pan

Nothing seemed to happen; it got oilier, and darker, and started to burn.  But yes it made popping sounds and jumped about.  Still the same tiny grains, just browner, and crunchier.  I was about to throw it out when I read up that puffed quinoa DIDN'T puff up like popcorn or get any bigger.  What?!  So I kept it and used it in the bars.  Seemed okay, if a bit crunchy.

rinse the quinoa 

drying out the quinoa on a lined tray before going in the oven  

after drying in the oven, throw the quinoa into a hot pan with a tiny bit of oil

Next day, I thought okay, I'll do the whole washing and drying thing.  So I rinsed it under the tap, laid it out on a lined baking tray, and left it for half an hour to dry.  A new bit of paper, more drying time then into the lowest oven I could get = 120C for 15 minutes.  Now into the hot pan with 1/4 tsp of veggie oil.  Same thing: a tiny bit of popping, no puffing, going dark and brown.  And burns easily so watch out.  Verdict?:  either buy it or use something else!

Now for toasting your nuts.  This can depend on your oven, but basically I toasted brazil nuts @ 170C for 10 minutes.  Put them in a single layer on an unlined baking tray, and into the oven.  They will start to look golden and smell toasted.

golden nuts

The pepitas went in @160C for 10-15 minutes (mine took 14mins.)  On an unlined tray, and into the oven.  They start to get golden edges, and look crisp.  And taste delicious.

crunchy pepitas

And my last tip for the day: chop up those prunes with scissors and a rubber glove if you don't want to get covered in gooey, sticky stuff.

very sticky so use scissors and a glove  

quinoa farmer and his crop on Lake Titicaca 

                   (image: Wikimedia: author Michael Hermann; crops of the


  1. Hi Sherry, I too would have tried to pop the quinoa - I wonder if it is like popping corn - only a certain variety will pop.

    1. hi Glenda
      Yes i really wonder what the go is with this stuff? It didn't puff up at all:(

  2. Funny you say that as we had two chefs debating about how to puff quinoa. One said one way while the other said that that was not the way to do it at all. We never got a definitive answer!

    1. It was pretty weird Lorraine. Didn’t really change at all!

  3. All of these foods are so super nutritious especially Brazil nuts-I swear by them. I did grow quinoa for a bit which was interesting.

    1. did you have to wear a hat like the Bolivian farmer? :=)


I would love to hear from you. Please leave your comment and I will reply as soon as I can. If you have problems commenting, please try without your WordPress profile. You can try Anonymous (add your name in the text) or your Google account if you have one.