Raw almonds have been misunderstood for years by Americans. I hate to burst your bubble, but these underage nuts are not even really nuts at all. They are actually the seeds of stone fruits - peaches, plums, cherries - which would explain their fuzzy, fleshy features. They only become what we would consider a "nut" after they dry out in the sun and are processed and steamed.
Surprisingly, almonds are not the only spring delicacy that has been mislabeled. Cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, and pistachios are not actually nuts, either. (If you needed new small talk material, you're welcome.)
Despite all these fun facts, the season for young almonds is about to be upon us. This means that you can try this grocery store nut in its nascence to learn how they truly taste when they're fresh.
Between mid-April and mid-June, these uber-seasonal snacks will begin making their way into farmers' markets and Middle Eastern groceries.
As California produces the vast majority of the country's almond crop, you may find that you'll have better luck nabbing a basket of these at a Middle Eastern market if you don't live in the Golden State.
Foraged these lovely almonds. They are, ahem, driving me NUTS. I open them at a rate of 5 per hour... help please.... . . . . . . . . . . . . #almonds #sustainablefood #bequia #eatfresh #eatlocal #terminaliacatappa #caribbeanfood #caribbeanchef #caribbeanalmonds #foragedfood #forage #greenalmonds #tarator #drivingmenuts #nuts #oyvey #travelandcook #travel
Wherever you buy them though, be vigilant in your selection.
As these almonds are eaten with the hull on - it's that soft inner part that will eventually grow and harden into an almond - make sure that the outside is still bright green and soft. Put them down if you spy any brown spots!
How to Eat Young Almonds
How you prepare these springtime finds will depend on the maturity of the fruit. If you select a crop that is young and fresh, you can eat the who thing. The outer shell will have a crisp, watery texture and a tart flavor, while the inner soon-to-be almond will have a gelatinous texture that's similar to a grape.
If you pick some specimens that are slightly older, grab your paring knife. The outside of the almond will become woody and bitter.
Therefore, you'll want to lightly run your knife along the seam of the hull and expose the nut. The milky white almond will taste surprisingly green, almost like biting too near the rind of a watermelon.
Of course you can keep these almonds in the fridge for several days after you purchase them, but experienced almond eaters suggest enjoying them as close to the purchase date as possible.
That will ensure that you avoid any hardening of the hull and/or woody flavor development.
How Do You Serve Them?
There are many ways you can offer this hyper-seasonal treat to your guests. One of the simplest methods is to dust them with flaky sea salt and maybe coat them in a few drops of olive oil. There is no question that they will be the most elegant cocktail nuts anyone has tried lately.