Nuts and seeds are very similar in the culinary context yet they are significantly different when looked at them from a botanical point of view. Seeds are embryonic plants enclosed in self-contained protective outer coverings. Nuts can be regarded as fruits that are composed of a hard shell and a seed, which is generally edible.
In the culinary context, the term nuts can be applied to many seeds that are not botanically true nuts. Therefore oily kernels found within a shell and used in food are commonly called nuts.
Seeds, on the other hand, are part of the process of reproduction of plants. They are the result of the ripened ovules after fertilization by pollen. They are generally used by plants to propagate plant species.
Culinary Uses of Nuts and Seeds
Seeds and nuts store nutrients within them specifically for the seedling that will grow out of that seed. This is where our interest in these plant stores as a source of food comes in. They tend to be rich in oil, starch, and protein.
We derive our nutrients from these angiosperms which are classified into cereals, legumes, and nuts. We also extract our cooking oils from them. That is not all. They are the basis on which we can make beverages such as coffee and cocoa or drinking chocolate.
Because according to the plant, seeds are designed to provide nutrients for the seedlings that germinate from them, plants tend to deter animals from taking advantage of the food stored within them.
This is done using either toxins or just bad taste. Mustard is one such example of bad taste. That, however, has not deterred men from making it a great flavoring agent for several dishes and sauces. Castor seeds contain the deadly toxin Ricin.
Seeds are usually eaten cooked with some exceptions with the nuts. Dried seeds need plenty of time to cook by boiling in water until they become soft. Soaking them in water allows them to soften up and save up on cooking time and energy. Cereals especially can be ground into powder and used to cook porridge dishes.
Other cereals are commercially processed into breakfast cereals and other packaged foods.