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Almonds

We may know them as a nut, but almonds are actually the edible seeds of the almond tree. The tree is native to Iran and other surrounding countries, but they’re widely grown elsewhere. In ancient times, this tree spreads along the shores of the Mediterranean into Africa and Europe. Later on, it was brought to other parts of the world. Particularly, in the U.S. state of California.

Moreover, almonds are one of the world’s most versatile and nutritious nuts. They’re also known for their many culinary uses and help benefits. That’s why there’s no wonder that they come in many forms. It can be purchased whole, slivered, ground into almond flour, turned into almond butter, juiced into almond milk, and a few more byproducts. Regardless, they are commonly added to breakfast meals like cereals, oatmeals, or muesli. But, they can also be used in making desserts like cakes, puddings, cookies, and more.

Classification Information:
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Species: P. Dulcis
Binomial Name: Prunus dulcis

Almond Trivia

  • Botanically speaking, almonds are not really a nut. Instead, it is a drupe or an indehiscent fruit.
  • In some cultures, immature green almonds are being preserved and pickled.
  • Almonds were one of the first foods in America that had a qualified health claim.
  • If you eat almonds in the middle of the morning, your blood sugar is moderated throughout the day. This is one of the reasons why almonds are popular in breakfast meals.

Almond Buying Guide

Almonds are easy to find in the market. They’re healthy and flavorful but they can be expensive. Thus, it’s important to know and decide which almonds are the best ones to choose, so that you won’t end up buying a lot.

First of all, decide beforehand how you plan to use almonds. These nuts come in many different forms so knowing its purpose will help a lot in choosing the best possible flavor. Raw and unsalted almonds are best for culinary specialties while roasted, salted, and flavored almonds are great to be eaten as toppings or snacks. Nevertheless, here are some of the popular almond products that you can consider:

  • Whole Almonds – As the name speaks for itself, whole almonds are raw, all-natural, and supreme-sized almond nuts. They’re commonly roasted, turned into other almond products, or eaten raw. Raw or roasted though, whole almonds are a healthy and delicious snack.
  • Blanched Almonds – These are almonds that are blanched in water and peeled. They give a smoother texture, which helps create almond flour, almond butter, or marzipan. While you can buy this in the market, it’s more cost-efficient to do this at home as it literally takes a minute to blanch and peel the almonds.
  • Sliced Almonds – These are almonds that have been peeled and thinly sliced horizontally across their diameter, providing you with bigger pieces of nuts. They’re commonly added to yogurts, cereals, salads, and more.
  • Slivered Almonds – These are almonds that have been peeled, split in half, and thinly sliced into little sticks (slivers). Due to their sleek slice, they’re commonly used as a topping in sweet and savory dishes such as stews, puddings, rice, and more.
  • Almond Milk – Although it’s named as milk, almond milk is dairy-free. It’s made by soaking the almonds in water, grinding them up, and running the mixture through a fine cheesecloth to strain. It offers fewer calories than the regular soy milk and more calcium than cow’s milk. It’s flavorful and widely available, which makes it a popular alternative to cappuccinos, lattes, juices, and other beverages. 
  • Almond Flour – This gluten-free flour offers much larger and crunchier particles, which works well on pancakes, pie crusts, and other baked goods. It’s also a common alternative to Graham crackers crumbs, especially when making the crust for cheesecakes.
  • Almond Meal – This product is the finer version of almond flour. It’s an essential component in making French macarons and dacquoise.  
  • Almond Butter – This product is made by roasting almonds and processing it through a high-speed blender or food processor until they are smooth and creamy. Sometimes, coconut oil or other flavorings like cinnamon and maple syrup are also added for a more flavorful one. Nevertheless, almond butter doesn’t have butter in it. Instead, it’s used as a butter, where they make the perfect spreads on toasts and sandwiches or dips for fruits and vegetables.
  • Marzipan – This product is made by sweetening almond meal with sugar or honey. Sometimes, almond oil or extract is also added to intensify the almond flavor of the product. Nevertheless, marzipan is used in confections, especially in making edible sculptures for cakes and alike. 

Once you’ve chosen the right almond, it’s time to dig in deeper. If possible, buy organic almonds so that you can avoid the GMO-based oils that are used for roasting and flavoring commercial almonds. Some even have tons of sugar, sodium, and soy in it. Thus, if you want to take better control of the nutritional values it provides, we suggest you roast and season them yourself. Not only that it’s healthier, but it’s also cheaper too!

If you’re in California and you love raw nuts, buy organic and raw almonds directly from nut farmers, either at the farmers’ markets or online. Keep an eye out to make sure you see the word “unpasteurized” in the product description. California state law requires all nuts to be pasteurized to prevent the risk of salmonella, a foodborne illness, which can be present in the soil the almond trees were grown in. Thus, the raw almonds have to be either steamed or treated with the chemical propylene oxide before they’re being sold for public consumption. 

Nevertheless, if you buy the raw version of almonds, you may pasteurize them at home before consumption to avoid the risk of food poisoning. 

Also, compare the prices of bulk packages against the smaller ones. While buying in bulk sounds cheaper, most of the time, they are more expensive. 

Lastly, if you want your almonds to be fresh for a longer period, choose the ones that come in a foil-sealed container.

Almond Production & Farming in Texas

Interestingly, almonds need hot weather and cool winters to grow. They are also 100% reliant on wild and honey bees to pollinate – most growers even rent bees for pollination though it costs a lot for them. However, the state of Texas is generally not a suitable place to grow almond trees since these trees bloom in early spring, the season where frost damages the blossoms or forming nuts.

But don’t worry, the varieties called ‘Mission’ and ‘Hall’s Hardy’ bloom much later, which can allow the almonds to be harvested in the fall. In Texas, these varieties can be grown in large containers, but they need to be transferred indoors during fall so that they can be safe until the final spring frost occurs.

Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:

As mentioned above, one of the downsides of buying commercially packaged almonds is that they are more likely to have the chemical propylene oxide. Almond milk, especially when they’re sweetened, will most likely contain additives to retain its freshness, prolong its shelf life, and intensify the flavor. These are some of the following: Calcium carbonate, vitamin A palmitate, gellan gum, locust bean gum, sodium ascorbate, and flavorings.

Geography:

The United States is the world’s leading producer of almonds, accounting for 59% of the world’s total production in 2018. The production is concentrated in California. Spain, Iran, Morocco, and Turkey follow.

Packaging:

How the almonds are packaged varies depending on its form. Almond nuts, flour, and meals usually come in plastic, paper, or foil-sealed packages. Almond milk comes in cartons and almond butter comes in mason jars or tubs. 

Enjoying Almonds

Almonds play a big role in the culinary world. They can be used from breakfast cereals, salads, and specialty dishes to baked goods and beverages.

Storage:

If there’s one thing that you’d have to remember about almonds, it’s that they are prone to rancidity. While it’s easy to think that processed almonds will last longer, it’s actually the opposite. Unprocessed almonds have a longer shelf life because their shells and brown hulls protect their flesh from rancidity contributors such as air, water, and light. Once they’ve been shelled, the clock starts to tick. Unopened raw almonds will last from 6 months up to 2 years. Chopped and roasted almonds that are still unopened will last from 4 months up to 1 year. 

Regardless, it’s always best to store the almonds in a dry, airtight container and store them in a dark, cool, and dry place. Keep them in the refrigerator or the freezer to prolong their shelf life.

Cooking:

Roasted almonds is one of the famous recipes to enjoy these nuts. You can easily incorporate other flavorings, but the most popular ones are maple, honey, and pepper.

Nutrition:

Almonds are 50% fat, 22% carbohydrates, 21% protein, and 4% water. Its carbohydrates are mainly composed of fiber, along with a small amount of sugar. 

Moreover, almonds provide many nutritional benefits. In fact, an ounce of almonds can give 37% vitamin E, 32% manganese, and 20% magnesium, along with a considerable amount of copper, vitamin B2, and phosphorus. In addition, they are also an excellent source of antioxidants, which can help protect our bodies from oxidative stress that contributes to inflammation, aging, and diseases such as cancer. Furthermore, almonds are the perfect choice for diabetic people as they can control the blood sugar level efficiently.

When Are Almonds in Season in Texas?

To find out when Almonds are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.

Nutrition

DV%

  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 575 29%
  • Carbs: 21.7g 7%
  • Sugar: 3.9g
  • Fiber: 12.2g 49%
  • Protein: 21.2g 42%
  • Fat: 49.4g 76%
  • Saturated Fat: 3.7g 19%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 1mg 0%
  • Vitamin C 0mg 0%
  • Vitamin A 1IU 0%
  • Calcium 264mg 26%
  • Iron 3.7mg 21%
  • Potassium 705mg 20%
  • Vitamin E 26.2mg 131%
  • Vitamin B6 0.1mg 7%
  • Folate 50mcg 12%
  • Magnesium 268mg 67%
  • Phosphorus 484mg 48%
  • Manganese 2.3mg 114%
  • Copper 1mg 50%
  • Zinc 3.1mg 21%

Seasonality

When are Almonds in season in Texas?

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec

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