How to Chop Nuts
The baker uses tons of nuts. Chopping them is a problem. It takes time. Pieces skip onto the floor. It’s easy to chop a finger. If you use a processor and turn your head, your nuts are ground into butter. There are better ways.
The common way to chop nuts is with a knife, holding the point to the cutting board and rocking the knife blade through the pile of nuts until they are chopped to the right size.
We lived in Alaska for many years. There the natives use a round bladed knife called an ulu. We adopted one for chopping nuts and vegetables. You can rock the blade through the nuts effectively though you still have to watch your fingers and the occasional nut still skitters to the floor. An Italian mezzaluna works similarly with double rounded blades.
You can avoid a knife altogether and crush your nuts in a heavy, zipper-type plastic bag. Put a handful in the bag, zip it up, and crush them with a rolling pin. It’s not very precise and you’ll soon wear out the bag but it will get the job done.
And there is a place for your food processor or electric blender. Many recipes call for nuts ground to a meal, finer than fine where the nut meal takes the place of some of the flour. The best way to do this is with the blender. But use the pulse button. Hit the nuts in very short bursts and stop as soon as the nuts approach the consistency of coarse sand. Don’t overheat the nuts and don’t turn the nuts into butter. If you use a food processor, consider adding a little flour or sugar from the recipe to absorb oils lost in processing.
For most recipes, we prefer mechanical choppers. Once you’ve tried a good mechanical chopper, you’ll never be without one.
Mechanical choppers come in two varieties: crank-types and plunger-types. Both work well. The crank-types rotate blades through the nuts trapping and breaking or cutting nuts with each turn. They are less expensive than plunger-types though you won’t invest much for either. The plunger-types are super efficient. With each press of the plunger, multiple blades extend and chop the nuts. In moments, you can chop nuts as fine as you like, almost to a butter. A cap pops off to pour the nuts out.
We carry two types of crank-type choppers. Our hand-crank chopper has a hopper with a lid, stainless blades, and 1 1/4 cup glass reservoir below. It’s tough, easy to clean, and proven. Our Deluxe Nut Chopper has an adjustable dispenser on the reservoir. Twist the lid on the dispenser to open the holes and shake out your chopped nuts. It’s perfect for spreading chopped nuts onto frosted cakes and desserts. Most crank-type nut choppers also work for grinding chocolate.
We carry several plunger-type choppers. They vary in size and construction—from sturdy plastic to stainless steel. The stainless steel blades rotate with each press of the plunger so the blades strike the nuts at a different angle on each press. You can remove the cap and chop right on a cutting board in you prefer. These choppers also work very well for chopping vegetables like onion slices and green peppers. (They will not chop a whole onion; only several slices at a time.)
We have used both types of choppers for years. We prefer the plunger- type because they are so efficient and controllable and because we can chop vegetables but both types work well. But we have to admit, the rotating crankers work nearly as efficiently and are very easy to clean.