Using Leftover Nut Pulp + Homemade Flour
There’s a running joke in the family that I would’ve made an excellent Depression era wife, which I try to see in the best possible light…
Maximizing ingredients and minimizing what’s tossed out is serious business in our kitchen, and my reasons for frugality are many. To name a few: it’s a money-saver, it’s good for our mouths and stomachs, and it’s friendly to the environment and food system as a whole.
Waste not, want not.
Last week I posted about home-making almond milk. (Did you try it?) Today I want to talk more about the leftover pulp — something you’ll end up with a lot of if you begin to regularly make non-dairy milks from nuts or seeds as we do. High in protein and fiber, low in carbohydrates, and a good source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, the pulp is also subtly sweet with a hint of flavor that makes it a delicious addition to any recipe. It’d be a shame to let this go to waste.
So what can I do with that leftover pulp?
After you’ve squeezed out the last of the milk from your pulp, it can be refrigerated as-is in a tightly-sealing container for up to 5 days. If you know it won’t be used that quickly, it freezes well, too.
There are now two* simple ways to use these nutritious leftovers:
1. Requiring no extra steps or time, you can add the wet pulp into porridge, granola prior to baking, baked items like Elana’s crispy and delicious GF flax crackers, or into smoothies for a boost of protein, healthy fat and satiating fiber. Use it to thicken soups, stews or curries, or try stirring a spoon or two into pasta sauce to impart a faint hint of flavor, creamy texture, and healthy nutrients! This recipe for raw nut pulp hummus on Sarah Britton’s gorgeous blog My New Roots is on my short list.
2. With 2 to 3 hours (mostly hands-off) of free time, you can dry the pulp in the oven and run it through a spice grinder to make nutritious, flavorful flour for crackers, cookies, cakes, tea breads, pancakes and waffles. Gluten- and grain-free, this fresh flour can be a delicious substitution for both wheat and non-wheat flours in baking and cooking.
*You could also add the pulp to your compost for a healthy garden boost.
Nine times out of ten the fate of our pulp is flour. In fact, it’s become a weekend routine: Soak the nuts or seeds Friday night, whizz up the milk Saturday morning, and then pop the pulp into the oven to dehydrate. If we have errands to run, I’ll stick the pan into the refrigerator for drying and processing after we return. Nothing complicated about that!
[Clockwise from top left: pecan, peanut, pepita, and almond flours]
If you’re following a gluten-free (GF) diet, or just like to mix up your recipe ingredients, you’re probably well aware of the high price tag on nut and seed flours. This homemade version is an extremely affordable alternative, making it much more appealing to those of us not willing to spend $11 per pound or more. I use it with great success as an equal substitute for baking recipes that call for other nut or seed flours/meals.
If you’re new to this type of baking, my best advice is to follow your instinct, and don’t be afraid to play around with swapping different nut and seed flours! Over time you’ll develop a feel for how they behave, and will know if and when to adjust the moisture levels, add more fat, how to adjust the oven temperature and baking times, etc.
I will say that substituting these flours in recipes that call for wheat flours — and to a lesser extent, other non-nut- or seed-based GF flours — requires more fine-tuning and experience. I can usually get away with replacing my homemade flour for up to 1/2 of these other flours in baking, but it’s ultimately best in this case to find a recipe that caters specifically to what types of flour you’re working with.
There you have it. Four fuss-free steps to fresh homemade flour with one ingredient that otherwise could have gone in the trash. A triumph for the frugality files!
Tell me… Do you have any other ideas or recipes for using the pulp? I’d love a few more ideas for my recipe arsenal!
- 1 cup nut or seed pulp, loosely packed
- Preheat your oven to its lowest temperature (ours goes to 170° F), and set a rack in the middle.
- After squeezing out as much of the liquid as you possibly can in the last steps of your homemade nut/seed milk prep, dump the pulp onto an unlined baking tray, and spread into an even, thin layer with a rubber scraper.
- Place the pulp in the oven and prop the door open to release the moisture and speed along the drying process (I use the end of a wooden spoon for this). Bake until the pulp is completely dry, checking in and stirring it around every 30 minutes or so. At 170° F, this process typically takes between 2 and 3 hours.
- Using a spice grinder, food processor or blender, process the dried pulp into a fine powder. Transfer your flour to a tightly sealing container, and store in the fridge or the freezer to prevent them from turning rancid.
You can refrigerate the flour 1 to 2 months, or freeze it for 6 to 8 months. If frozen, remove the amount needed for your recipe and let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes prior to using.
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