One of the greatest things about nuts is their versatility. You can add flavor and texture by throwing a few walnuts onto a salad or some chopped pecans into chocolate chip cookie dough. Dreaming up new ways to cook and bake with nuts is easy, but one question remains—what to do with the shells? It just seems like a waste to throw them out.
Sure, you can add them to your compost heap, if you have one. Or just throw them in the bin with your other organic waste (you seperate your garbage and recycle glass, aluminum, and plastics, right?). But for the creative and the crafty, here are a few ways to do more with the "discards" from your nutty snacking.
Rogue Creamery, a great cheese company based in Oregon, hit upon a creative use for hazelnut shells: using them to smoke their cheese. One of Rogue's most popular varieties is Smokey Blue, a blue cheese cold-smoked for 16 hours in Oregon hazelnut shells. The hazelnut shell smoke adds a mild, nutty nuance to the cheese, balancing the rich and pungent flavors. I also remember an episode of Iron Chef America where Bobby Flay smoked ribs with peanut shells.
Some people place empty pistachio shells at the bottom of flower pots to help with drainage. Or use them in homemade maracas and other noisemaikers for kids.
Have you ever cooked or crafted with empty nut shells?
About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.