The kernel of the fruit of the almond tree, grown extensively in California, the Mediterranean, Australia and South Africa. There are two main types of almonds — sweet and bitter. The flavor of sweet almonds is delicate and slightly sweet. They’re readily available in markets and, unless otherwise indicated, are the variety used in recipes. The more strongly flavored bitter almonds contain traces of lethal prussic acid when raw. Though the acid’s toxicity is destroyed when the nuts are heated, the sale of bitter almonds is illegal in the United States. Processed bitter almonds are used to flavor extracts, liqueurs and orgeat syrup. The kernels of apricot and peach pits have a similar flavor and the same toxic effect (destroyed by heating) as bitter almonds. Almonds are available blanched or not, whole, sliced, chopped, candied, smoked, in paste form and in many flavors. Toasting almonds before using in recipes intensifies their flavor and adds crunch. Almonds are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with calcium, fiber, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin E. See also almond extract; almond oil; almond paste; jordan almond; nuts.



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