Nut Structures and Qualities

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The bulk of most nuts consists of the embryo’s swollen storage leaves, or cotyledons, but coconuts and pine nuts are monolithic masses of endosperm, and the Brazil nut is a swollen embryonic stem. Unlike most grains and legumes, nuts are delicious when eaten in their dry, nutrient-concentrated state, somewhat crisped and browned by a quick roasting. Their weak cell walls make them tender, their low starch content prevents them from seeming floury, and their oil gives them a mouthwatering moistness.