Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How to Make Almond Flour and Why I Soak My Raw Nuts, Seeds, Grains and Legumes

Have you wanted to make recipes using almond flour, but don't like the cost?  That is exactly how I felt.

I had been using almond meal until recently when I decided to take matters into my own hands by making my own finely ground blanched almond flour.  And it worked like a charm!


Almond Meal

Almond meal is made from ground up almonds, skins intact.   If you have a Vitamix blender, it is very easy to make and the baked goods that result are delicious.


Almond Flour

Almond flour, on the other hand, is ground up blanched almonds, skins removed.   It is lighter and fluffier than almond meal.  It makes the texture of baked goods lighter and more like conventional baked goods.

Why Soak?

Removing the skins is important for nutritional reasons, also.

Nuts such as almonds, but also seeds, grains and legumes all have phytic and enzyme inhibitors in the hard outer shells or skins them which preserves and protects the germ inside.  This protective outer coating renders the nut, seed, grain or legume impervious to deterioration and able to store for years.

While this protective exterior ensures no degradation of nutrients inside, it also has anti-nutrient properties:  the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors make nutrients unavailable for absorption in the gut.  Phytic acid binds to calcium and magnesium and other nutrients, preventing their absorption in the intestine.  Enzyme inhibitors means impaired digestibility.  A net loss of nutrients occurs when eating raw nuts, seeds, grains and legumes that have not be properly soaked and dehydrated. 

Soaking the raw nuts, seeds, grains and legumes in an acidic solvent gently and efficiently removes the anti-nutrients, magnifying their digestibility and nourishment.

I have gotten into the habit of soaking and dehydrate my grains, nuts and seeds and it has been working.  So, for me to remove almond skins prior to dehydration was not a huge learning curve.  Instead it was an extra 30 minutes of prep.

How to Make Finely Ground Blanched Almond Flour

1.  Blanch almonds for up to 2 minutes in nearly boiling water.  Immediately transfer to an ice water bath.

2.  Squeeze the almonds between your fingers and the skins should slip off.  
 3.  Remove the skins from all the almonds and dry almonds on a towel.
4.  Dehydrate almonds for 24 hours.  I use a stainless steel drying rack in my oven set to warm. It stays between 110 and 150 degrees as long as I monitor the temperature and shut off the oven when it gets to 150.    If you have a dehydrator, even better.
5.  Next, grind the almonds in a blender, a Vitamix, or a coffee grinder.  Grind until just before it becomes a butter.  It will stick to the sides a little and have a slightly oily feel.  It should also feel very light and fluffy.
5.  Using a strainer, sift the flour collecting the fine grains in a bowl.

6.  There will be larger pieces in the strainer which you can grind up again.  The flour is done when it is very fine with no visible almond pieces.   
7.  Very Important.  Freeze until needed.  Once the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are removed, the vital nutrients are extremely vulnerable to deterioration and begin to loose potency.
It is ready for baking all kinds of delicious baked goods.


--Two Peas 

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