Almonds are a delicious tree nut (they’re technically drupes, but culinarily they are considered nuts) that make a wonderful snack and ingredient to bake with. Almonds usually have a thin brown skin attached. The skin is edible and doesn’t impart too much flavor to the nuts, so most of the time we leave it on. That said, there are times when you may want to peel your almond for aesthetic reasons and the skin can seem quite difficult to get off at first. Macarons, for instance, typically start with blanched almonds. Some spiced nut recipes call for blanched almonds, as well. Fortunately, if you have a few minutes to spare, there is a trick to peeling almonds that will leave you with skin-free almonds in almost no time at all.
Step 1. Bring about 1-2-inches of water to a boil. Dump your almonds in the boiling water to blanch them for 55-60 seconds. Do not over-boil. Blanching the almonds in hot water shocks them just enough to loosen their skins and the short time frame keeps the nuts from getting soft.
Step 2. Strain the almonds into a colander and run under cold water. This will further loosen the skins and will stop the almonds from cooking due to residual heat.
Step 3. Transfer almonds to a paper towel-lined tray or counter top and remove the loose skins. You can peel back the skins with your fingers or squeeze the almonds out of them (my preferred method). Discard the skins.
Tips: Use a shallow skillet, rather than a deep saucepan. You don’t need much water and it will cut down on the boiling time to use a shallow pan. Plus, skillets are usually lighter and easier to maneuver than a deep saucepan.
When I’m peeling almonds, I’ll peel a large batch at once. Removing the peels is the most time consuming part of the process, so I simply sit with a bowl in front of my tv/computer and watch something while I work. It’s a lot like removing peas from their pods.
The almonds will need to dry once they have been blanched and peeled. If you are toasting them, you can do it right away. If you plan to store them, leave them on a paper towel-lined tray for a couple of hours before sealing them up.