Roasted salted almonds – an easy, satisfying snack – were already popular in the Victorian and Edwardian era.
‘At intervals about the center were cut glass and fancy china dishes of pimolas, salted almonds, and pecans, and pink and green confections, with little fancy Venetian salt dishes conveniently near the plates.’ (The Home Science Cook Book, 1902)
In the Victorian and Edwardian era, salted almonds were served at formal dinners, such as at Christmas dinners: ‘Salted almonds make a nourishing side dish at luncheon, or for dessert.’ (Meals Medicinal, 1905) ‘In the centre of the table should be either a vase of flowers or a dish of fruit. Ferns make a very attractive effect. There should be small dishes of candies, figs, prunes, crystallized ginger, etc. Olives or radishes, salted almonds, etc., should be set in pretty little dishes on the table. These, with the silver, glass carafes of water, and wine decanters, complete the decoration of the table.’ (Household Companion: Book Of Etiquette, 1909)
‘Instead of serving the cheese after the hot entremets […] pass around the fresh fruits, stewed, candied and dried fruits, bonbon cases, bonbons, mottoes, ices, strawberries and raspberries with cream when in season, passing cakes around at the same time. Serve Madeira wine, Muscatel and Frontignan, also plates of salted almonds.’ (The Epicurean, 1893) ‘Salted almonds are eaten with dinner as an aid to digestion.’ (Food And Feeding In Health And Disease, 1915) ‘To be of service as digesters they must not be baked, fried or browned.’ (Mrs. Rorer’s Diet For The Sick, 1914)
In the Victorian era, blanched almonds were coated with gum arabic, while in the Edwardian era and the 1920s, blanched almonds were coated with oil and roasted in the oven or deep fried in olive oil. Then the almonds were sprinkled with salt. Below are four historical recipes for salted almonds and a recipe for prunes stuffed with salted almonds. I tried the Edwardian salted almonds and the Edwardian fried almonds: Both were delicious but I prefer the fried almonds.
Salted Almonds – Historical Recipes
Victorian Salted Almonds
- blanched almonds
- gum arabic
- fine salt
‘Select fine, whole almonds, peel and lay them on a paper-covered baking sheet. Push this into a hot oven and when roasted to a fine golden brown throw them into a basin and sprinkle with a little water, slightly thickened with gum arabic, then dredge with very fine salt through a salt box having a perforated lid. Stir the almonds from time to time until dry. then leave to cool.
Hazel-nuts, walnuts, and pistachios can also be salted; these are generally dressed in crimped paper cases or small fancy boxes; they are passed around with the desert, or at the same time as the hors d’ceuvre, and then left on the table during the entire length of the dinner.’ (The Epicurean, 1893)
Edwardian Salted Almonds
- 1 pint blanched almonds
- 2 tbsp olive oil or melted butter
- 2 tbsp salt
‘Shell the nuts and blanch by covering for a moment with boiling water, then put in cold water and rub off the skins. To a pint of nuts add two tablespoons of olive oil or melted butter, let them stand for an hour or two, stirring occasionally. Then sprinkle with two tablespoons of salt, and put in a moderate oven and bake till all are a delicate brown, fifteen or twenty minutes, stirring often.’ (The Home Science Cook Book, 1902)
‘The more slowly they are baked the drier they become, and thus will remain crisp longer. This may take an hour. A large quantity of nuts may be prepared this way and kept in a closed jar almost indefinitely.’ (Every Woman’s Cook Book, Recipes And Food Combinations For The Household, 1922) ‘Almonds prepared in this way, if kept in a tin box, will remain fresh for some time and can be reheated at any time, to make them crisp.’ (Around-The-World Cook Book, 1913)
I roasted the almonds at 200°C for 5 – 10 minutes.
Edwardian Fried Almonds
‘If in a hurry for the nuts, they may be fried in deep fat and they will be very good for a short time, but they lose their crispness sooner if prepared this way. Olive oil is much better than butter as it browns so slowly.’ (Every Woman’s Cook Book, Recipes And Food Combinations For The Household, 1922)
- blanched almonds
- 3/4 cup oil
‘In a saucepan or the chafing-dish put three-fourths of a cup of oil, and when this is hot put in the nuts, a few at a time. Stir until they become a delicate brown, then drain on paper. The nuts are cooked more evenly and become more brittle than when done in the oven.’ (The Home Science Cook Book, 1902)
1920s Salted Almonds
- 1 cup blanched almonds
- 1 tbsp olive oil
‘Heat one tablespoon olive oil in chafing dish; add one cup blanched and dried almonds. Stir until evenly colored. Drain and sprinkle with salt.’ (Lowney’s Cook Book, 1921)
Prunes Stuffed With Salted Almonds
- salted almonds
‘For a dinner confection, stuff prunes with salted almonds’ (Mrs. De Graf’s Cook Book, 1922).