Brazil nuts have a mild, slightly coconut flavor with a texture similar to macadamia nuts.
They are sold in and out of their tough shells.
The nuts are safe to eat raw, but many prefer the flavor that roasting brings.
Oven roasting makes the notoriously tough shells easier to crack.
Spread the nuts in a single layer on a pan, then roast at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 15 minutes or until they smell toasted and look darker.
How to Roast Brazil Nuts in Shell
Oven roasting helps to remove the tough shells from Brazil nuts, and improves the flavor. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Place the nuts on a cookie tray or pan and roast for up to 15 minutes. Eat no more than three Brazil nuts per day because of their high amount of selenium.
About Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are from (you guessed it) Brazil, but most Brazil nuts come from Bolivia. Peru also grows and exports them.
They come from a huge tree (Bertholletia exceisa) which is unfortunately threatened with extinction, since the wood is desired as lumber.
This is one reason why Brazil nuts are more expensive than many other kinds of nuts.
Brazil nuts can be used in a variety of ways.
You can snack on them as they are, roast them out of their shells in oils or sauces, chop them up and put them in salads, granola or trail mix, use them as a yogurt topping or blend with fruits, milk and honey to make smoothies.
Brazil nuts contain many nutrients, including:
- Selenium (more about that later)
- Omega-6 fatty acids
- Thiamin, also called Vitamin B1
- Vitamin E
Roasting Brazil Nuts in the Shell
It’s easy to roast Brazil nuts in the shell. Just set the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
Spread the nuts in a single layer and not in a pile. It’s best to not have the nuts touch each other.
Keep in the oven for 15 minutes or until they smell toasty and the shells turn a shade darker.
They can be cracked as soon as they are cool to touch.
Some people advocate soaking the nuts overnight in water and storing them in containers with water.
This is thought to help the nuts have more nutrients, be more digestible and to soften them up, but you do not need to do this if you don’t want to.
Shelling Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are tough nuts to crack, which is why most people prefer to buy them pre-shelled.
Roasting in the oven makes the shells easier to crack.
Traditionally, machetes were used to shell the nuts. It’s not the only way to shell the nuts. Other ways include:
- Place in the freezer for three to four hours.
- Place the Brazil nuts in boiling water and, after one minute, pour the nuts into a pot of cold water. Be sure to discard the water, since it may contain aflatoxins.
You can use any kind of nutcracker to crack the shells. You will need to squeeze less by using any of the above methods.
People with arthritis or other health issues that can lessen hand strength really should buy pre-shelled Brazil nuts.
They can then be roasted in the oven like other nuts, perhaps tossed in some oil and spices to liven up the flavor.
Do not use a hammer, however tempting that might be, because that can turn both the nuts and the shells into such small pieces that they get mixed together.
It will be difficult and time-consuming to separate the nut bits from the shell bits. This could make it easy to eat the shells. You do not want to eat the shells.
Warnings About Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are grown on trees, so if you are allergic to more common tree nuts like almonds, pine nuts, pecans, cashews or macadamias, then you will be allergic to Brazil nuts.
If you are allergic to peanuts or other ground nuts, then you might be allergic to Brazil nuts.
Never eat Brazil nut shells. Not only are they hard enough to break your teeth, they contain chemicals caused by molds called aflatoxins that could cause liver cancer.
This is the reason why Brazil nuts in the shell were banned in the European Union in 2003, unless they are accompanied by a particular health certificate.
Brazil nuts out of the shell are still allowed.
No matter how much you like Brazil nuts, do not eat more than three a day.
This is because Brazil nuts contain a lot of selenium. Each nut contains a different amount of selenium, so predicting how much selenium a nut has is impossible.
Your body needs selenium, but only in small doses. Signs of selenium poisoning include:
- Loss of hair
- Problems with fingernails
- Stomach upset
- Being more tired than usual
- Muscle aches
- Pain in the joints.
In extreme cases of selenium poisoning, people have been known to suffer heart attacks, kidney failure, have breathing problems or even die.
Although this may sound scary, it should be known that not eating any selenium also causes health problems like sterility in men, a kind of osteoporosis, and cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the heart.)
Just eat raw or roasted Brazil nuts in moderation.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Roast Brazil Nuts in Shell
What are Brazil Nuts Similar To?
If you need a substitution for Brazil nuts, try macadamia nuts, since they are similar in texture and taste. Another nut similar in taste is the pili nut. However, these are more expensive and harder to find than macadamias.
Can You Eat Too Many Brazil Nuts?
Brazil nuts are high in selenium. Too much selenium can get you very sick from selenium poisoning. It is only recommended to eat one to three Brazil nuts per day.
Why Can’t You Buy Brazil Nuts in the Shell in Some Countries?
In 2003, the European Union banned the sale of Brazil nuts in shells imported from Brazil, the only country that mainly exports its nuts still in shells. This is because the shells contain aflatoxins, considered a substance that can cause liver cancer. There was a partial lift of this ban in 2016.
The Least You Need to Know
To roast Brazil nuts in their shells, set the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
Arrange the nuts so they are in a single layer and not touching each other.
Leave in the oven from ten to fifteen minutes.
When you smell something toasting and the nuts are a shade darker than usual, they are done.
Now that they are roasted, they should be easier to crack open. Only eat one to three nuts per day.