The almond comes from the pit of a stone fruit related to the plum, cherry, peach, apricot, and nectarine. Bitter almonds, and the seeds of the related fruits, contain high levels of the poison cyanide. Normal almonds are safe to eat.
To remove the brown peels, blanch the almonds (briefly plunge them into boiling water) and then put them in cold water. The peels will become loose enough to slip off.
Almonds go well with cherries and chocolate.
There are a number of varieties of almond grown and sold in Australia. And they don’t all taste the same! The Nonpariel variety is ideal for serving natural and displays beautifully on a platter with fruit and cheese. The Mission variety has the most intense almond flavour – probably the almond lovers’ almond. It is ideal to use as a roasted and flavoured snack.
Recommendations for Storage of Almonds
- Store under cool and dry conditions in an airtight container.
- Avoid exposure to strong odours (eg garlic) as almonds can absorb odours of other materials if exposed for prolonged periods.
- Roasted products must be protected from oxygen.
- If kept under cold storage conditions, whole natural almonds can be stored for about two years with no significant loss in quality.
- Bring nuts to room temperature before use as flavour is not optimal if cold.
Almonds are perhaps one of the most versatile nuts in the world. Whatever the meal and whatever the cuisine, there’s bound to be an almond fit! If you’re using almonds for their flavour or crunch here are some guidelines and suggestions on using all the different available forms.
Whole Natural Almonds
- Versatile, and is suitable for all-around use.
- Try in snacks such as Garlic Almonds or Herbed Almonds.
- Serve roasted whole natural almonds and dried fruit with cheese as a pre- or post-dinner snack.
- To toast almonds for extra crunch (whole/sliced or slivered) in a dry frying pan over medium heat, lightly toast stirring frequently. Watch carefully so they do not burn.
Whole Blanched Almonds
- Works well as a garnish.
- The beautiful colour contrasts on cakes, biscuits and other sweets.
- Grind them in a blender or food processor as part of soups or sauces to add nutrition.
- Place them on top of cakes and biscuits just before baking.
- Roasting almonds brings out their crunch, enhances their flavour and turns them a golden brown colour.
- To roast almonds, place them on a baking sheet in a preheated 180 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown; stir once or twice to ensure even browning. Almonds will continue to roast slightly after removed from oven.
Sliced Natural Almonds
- Well-suited for salads and with hot or cold vegetables, in muesli and in soups.
- Try your favourite soup with a sprinkle of almonds for crunch and flavour.
- Or make a muesli.
Sliced Blanched Almonds
- Attractive on decorated desserts or muffins or other pastries before baking.
- Make a salad containing almonds, orange segments and fennel.
Slivered Blanched Almonds
- Perfect for stir-fries, they hold their shape without breaking, to give some healthy crunch and flavour.
- Works well for stuffings and coatings or include it in whole grain bread dough.
- Also works well when a delicate appearance is needed.
- Press diced natural almonds around the sides of a cake, for a healthy, crunchy rim.
Ground Almonds, Almond Meal, and Almond Flour
- Almond meal, almond flour or ground almond is made from ground sweet almonds.
- Ground almonds are exactly what they sound like — almonds that have been ground up. They may or may not contain almond skins. Almond meal is the solid that remains after the commercial extraction of almond oil from the ground nuts, so almond meal contains less oil than ground almonds do. Almond meal, also, contains almond skins, which gives it a course texture. Almond flour consists of almonds ground without their skins, whereas almond meal can be made both with whole or blanched almonds. The consistency is more like polenta than wheat flour. It is used in pastry and confectionery – in the manufacture of almond macaroons and other sweet pastries, in cake and pie filling, such as Sachertorte and is one of the two main ingredients of marzipan and almond paste. In France almond meal is called frangipane and is an important ingredient in the traditional Galette des Rois cake.
- Almond meal has recently become important in baking items for those on low carbohydrate diets. It adds moistness and a rich nutty taste to baked goods. Items baked with almond meal tend to be calorie-dense.
- Great for coatings or to make almond butter or marzipan. Many almond cake recipes include this form as “almond meal”. To make almond butter, place ¾ cup ground blanched almonds in a blender or food processor, and add ⅛ teaspoon salt; pour in 3 tablespoons almond or vegetable oil in a slow, steady stream, blending until the mixture comes together. Replace part of the flour content of your next cake with almond meal for a more moist and dense treat!
- Found near soy milk at the supermarket, it is delicious in coffee or in smoothies.
- Blend together almond milk, fruit and ice cubes to make a delicious smoothie.
- Found near the olive oils and flavoured oils at the supermarket.
- It can be used in the same way as olive, vegetable and canola oil