are the nutmeat found inside the pit of the dry fruit on almond trees. Almonds are the
number one ranking nut crop in the United States. Worldwide they are cultivated in Australia, South Africa, Asia,
Sicily and France. Ivory-colored with a pointed, oval shape and smooth texture;
almonds come in sweet and bitter forms. Sweet almonds
are what most people are familiar with and used by bakers. They have a delicate
taste that is great in breads, cookies, cakes, fillings,
confections, and decorations. Sold whole, sliced, slivered, or ground with
skins on or off (blanched). Their flavor intensifies when toasted, so I
often like to toast the almonds first before using in a recipe. Spread the
almonds on a
baking sheet and put in a 350 degree F (180 degree C) oven for 5-10 minutes
until lightly brown. Watch carefully as they can burn easily. Cool before using. To blanch whole
almonds, place in boiling water for about 1 minute. Drain and place in ice
water to stop further cooking of the almonds. Peel the skin off with your
fingers. Then bake in a 350 degree F (180 degree C) oven for about 5-10
minutes, or until almonds are dry, but have no color. Bitter almonds
are illegal in the United States. They have a stronger flavor than the sweet
almonds but also contain prussic acid, which is toxic when raw. The acid's
toxicity is destroyed when the almonds are processed. Bitter almonds are
mainly used in extracts and flavorings. They are prized in Europe and
sometimes a little is added to almond meal and marzipan to intensify the almond
flavor. Almonds are used
to make almond paste and marzipan. Almond paste is a combination of ground blanched almonds and sugar, mixed with glucose, corn syrup or egg
whites. It is pliable with a sweet almond flavor and grainy texture. Sold in
cans or tubes.
Almond paste is used in pastry making and to cover cakes and
pastries, as well as forming into different shapes. Marzipan, on the
other hand, is a cooked mixture of finely ground almonds, sugar, and water.
Slightly sweeter with a smoother texture, it is firmer than almond paste but is
still pliable. It can be colored and rolled out to cover cakes and pastries, or
formed into shapes. It comes in plastic-wrapped rolls. Almond flour or
meal is made from very finely ground blanched almonds and sugar. Used in dessert making. You can sometimes buy it at health food stores or make your own by
cup (100 grams) sliced (blanched or natural (skins on)) almonds with
1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar in a blender or food processor.
Sugar or flour is often added to the almonds when ground to prevent clumping as
it absorbs the oil from the almonds. Toasting the almonds first dries
them which also helps to prevent clumping. Almond extract is
a flavoring made from bitter almond oil and alcohol. It has a very strong
flavor and should be used with a light touch. Will keep indefinitely if stored
in a cool, dry place.
1 cup slivered =
1 cup sliced = 85
1 cup coarsely
chopped = 85 grams
1 cup finely ground
= 100 grams
powder fine = 85 grams
Almonds are used in both sweet (dessert making) and savory dishes
(thickeners for sauces, used in stuffings for meats).
Many cuisines use ground almonds in place of flour.
Ground almonds can be mixed with water to make almond milk. The
Persians and Arabs made almond milk thousands of years ago and in early
China infants were feed almond milk.
Almond trees were brought to New England in the 1840s but the climate
was not conducive for growing almond trees. Eventually they made
their way to the Central Valley of California which has the perfect
climate for growing the trees.
There are different varieties of sweet almonds, some sweeter tasting
Almonds are harvested once a year.
calcium, fiber, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin E.