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I buy and freeze whole almonds when they go on sale. I use them whole, chop them coarsely for things like bread and chop fine or food process them for things like pastries.

When I chop them by hand there are some large and small pieces. I assumed this was because of poor knife work so I practiced. Since the nuts are so hard it is almost impossible for me to get uniform sizes.

When I chop them in the food processor the pieces are uniform but too small for many applications.

What is the best way to take apart almonds so I can get uniform pieces? Slivered or sliced almonds would be the best if that is possible without industrial equipment.

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For coarse chopping, have you tried using the slicer insert of your food processor? I.e. not the blade at the bottom which keeps chopping the contents over and over again, but the mandolin-like blade that you put at the top, so food only hits it once or twice, then falls through into the bowl. –  Marti Nov 16 '10 at 16:03

4 Answers 4

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I think on some level you'll just get what you get with something hard like an almond. A really really sharp knife with a thin blade can help, but you can only do so much. My hand-cut ones are always a bit on the raggedy side.

When using a food processor, try smaller batches to leave bigger or more consistent pieces. You don't have to pulse as long to get everything broken up, so you get less that's ground to nothing. Do a small batch for a short chop, dump 'em out, do another.

As to how to do slivered or sliced almonds, I always figured that they started with blanched almonds (which are less crisp in my experience) or maybe even raw ones and then roasted them after cutting to crisp them up. You might experiment with blanched or unroasted almonds and see if you get a better result with a knife.

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That's an interesting idea. I will try blanching->slicing->toasting. –  Sobachatina Nov 16 '10 at 15:29
    
All the slivered almonds I've ever seen have certainly been blanched. –  Marti Nov 16 '10 at 16:04
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Warm the almonds up in the nukulator (Microwave oven) first until hot to the touch, but not starting to cook. Then they will slice better in the processor instead of breaking up –  TFD Nov 18 '10 at 7:27
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Blanching the almonds worked perfectly. @TFD- warming them in the microwave also worked very well and was fast. I was able to slice them almost like slivered almonds. Thanks for the tip! –  Sobachatina Nov 28 '10 at 21:32

Whenever I want chopped almonds, I always use the food processor.

If I want small pieces, I set the speed of the blade high and if I want larger pieces, I just set lower speed. Of course I will still get some tiny bits, but most almonds, even after longish processing, are cut into 2-4 pieces.

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If you're looking for smallish pieces, you can get a nut grinder -- they'll give you fairly uniform pieces without too much effort. But they can't do large pieces.

Some examples can be found here, here, and here.

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maybe more expensive ones will do almonds, but my cheap hand crank nut grinder only does softer, higher fat content nuts like pecans and walnuts. It looks a lot like your last two linked. –  justkt Nov 18 '10 at 15:39

From:

http://www.practicallyedible.com/edible.nsf/pages/sliveredalmonds

Slivered almonds are almonds that have been sliced very thinly into little sticks. They differ from sliced almonds, which are almonds sliced across their diameter giving you much bigger pieces. If you can't keep the shape distinction clear in your head, think of getting a sliver in your finger and what that is shaped like.

To make sliced or slivered almonds, commercial producers have special machines that will process about 4,000 pounds of almonds an hour. The machine heats the almonds to about 160F to make them pliable, so that they won't shatter when being cut

Sliced and slivered almonds are just about impossible to make at home. The food processor won't slice them, it will chop them and then grind them. It's really not something you can do by hand, either; they will split like crazy on you and you may lose a finger in the process. If they weren't so readily available in packets at the stores, no recipes would be calling for them.

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That's kind of what I was afraid of. I will post back results when I try out the blanching and slicing method above. –  Sobachatina Nov 16 '10 at 17:07
    
@Sobachatina Good luck! It'd be great if works! –  belisarius Nov 16 '10 at 17:19
    
@Sobachatina: Hopefully you'll be able to at least get them to the size you want, even if they're not as pretty and regular as the magically produced ones from the store. –  Jefromi Nov 16 '10 at 20:36

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