27 Dec 2008

Salty roasted almonds and caraway schnaps

Christmas time is making your own stuff from the basics. This year brought, amongst other things, salty almonds and caraway schnaps (aquavit).

Salty roasted almonds
  • ca. 1 l concentrated brine
  • 0.5-1 kg almonds
A very approximate, but still fool proof, method: Make a concentrated brine by dissolving as much salt as possible in ca. 1 l boiling water (takes approx 500 g or so, maybe). Dump in almonds (0.5-1 kg), as much so that the almonds are just covered. Put on lid and leave cool/cold overnight. The lower the temperature, the saltier the almonds, I usually keep them on the porch in wintertime but the fridge works well. Next day, strain and spread on a baking tray with parchment. Roast in the oven, fan turned on, at 150 °C to taste (I usually prefer 15-20 minues).

Principles governing the crystallisation of salt on the almonds
  • Rapid cooling gives small crystals. If you want larger salt crystals that crunch, cool slowly (start with placing in a warm room), and use less saturated brine.
  • A lower end temperature results in precipitation of a larger proportion of the salt, probably giving saltier almonds. For less salty almonds, leave in warmer place to cool and/or strain earlier.
The good thing about these is that no fat is involved, avoiding greasy almonds. Also, the method allows for easy production of rather large amounts (0.5-1 kg at a time) with a minimum of labour.

Caraway schnaps (aquavit)
The caraway schnaps/aquavit/snaps is inevitable at many Norwegian Christmas dinners. Making one's own (in Norway and Denmark, the term would be "dram" or "krydderdram") is in fact rather easy. Although the flavour might not be as complex as the commercial ones (sherry cask aging is not an option in our home...), I believe that the ones you make at home might be more concentrated in the spice/herb flavour. The directions follow the recipe from Rolf Øvrum:
  • 25 ml caraway seeds
  • 50 + 450 ml 40% unflavoured alcohol/ethanol (80 proof)
Mix caraway seed and 50 ml ethanol in a lidded jar and leave in room temperature for 5-6 days to extract (longer storage times results, according to the literature, in unpleasant turpentine-like flavour). Make sure that the jar is perfectly clean as the alcohol might extract remaining flavour from plastic-lined lids of jars previously used for other foods. Filter through filter paper (paper coffee filter works fine), giving a highly concentrated caraway extract. Dilute with the 450 ml ethanol, rinsing the caraway seeds and filter paper with some of the ethanol in order to recover all the extract. It is perfectly drinkable right away, but will round of well if left to mature, preferably for 3-5 months. Goes well with strong flavoured meats such as mutton or game.

Øvrum, R.: Akevitt av egen avl. Cappelen Damm 1999.


  1. Should the almonds be dumped in the hot brine?


  2. Sorry, stupid question.


  3. Not a stupid question, but maybe the recipe was not clear enough. Yes, you're right: simply dump the almonds in and leave to cool


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