Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Vegan MoFo 13- What are White Nuts? Apricot Kernals? Lotus Seeds? Melon seeds?

What are White Nuts? Apricot Kernels? Lotus Seeds? Melon Seeds?
White nuts or Ginko nuts are a large mealy nut used in desserts and savoury Asian dishes. They're available fresh, canned or dried and need to be rinsed before using (or shelled, skinned and boiled if fresh). You can roast them like chestnuts to bring out their sweet flavour or use them in recipes. They're a great all round nut that are much cheaper than our usual alternatives. 
Apricot kenels or Chinese almonds have an intensely fragrant flavour akin to bitter almonds, marzipan, or amaretto. They're mildly toxic if eaten raw so you should roast or blanche them before use. They're so strong that you only need a few to put a bit of umpfh in your dish (similar to almond essence) so I tend to use these as a flavouring agent in my dishes rather than as a nut replacement.
Lotus seeds are sold fresh vacuum packed, dried, frozen and canned and can be used in many desserts and savoury dishes. If using dried they need to be soaked overnight to make them soft enough to eat. They have a distinct flavour but can be used in sweet or savoury dishes.
Melon seeds are a lovely snack or salad addition. Broad beans are another interesting snack available in the Asian grocers, they're not the healthiest choice, being deep fried and salted but they taste great. They also come in flavours such as chilli or bbq.

Here are some recipes that you could use these seed and nut alternatives in...
I hope you give these a second look next time you're in the Asian grocer- there are some great interesting alternatives to try!
All the best,

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1 comment:

  1. Blanched apricot kernels contain very little in the way of amygdalin (vitamin B17). Amygdalin is actually water-soluble and when boiled (blanched), this process is hastened. The amygdalin leaches into the water and some of the inherent constituents are liberated through enzymatic actions. One of those constituents is hydrocyanic acid, which is a dietary expectation within biologically rational quantities.

    It is actually benzaldehyde we taste with these blanched kernels, which becomes more apparent after the amygdalin molecule has been broken down into its component parts. Benzaldehyde is the chemical responsible for the flavor associated with marzipan and amaretto.

    More can be learned about apricot kernels on my own blog at


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