Almonds in our A-Z - Cooking Index
There is a common misconception that Almonds are nuts, they are in fact fruits, making them accessible to some (but not all) people who suffer from nut allergies.
Almonds are generally eaten as snacks on their own, either raw or toasted. However, there are also many uses for almonds in the kitchen. Almonds are regularly used in baking, either as a topping or as part of the actual sponge of the cake. As almonds often do not effect sufferers of nut allergies they are used to make a popular substitute for peanut butter, which does not effect those that suffer from an allergy of peanuts. Almond milk is also used by those who are lactose intolerant.
There are two forms of the plant, one (often with white flowers) producing sweet almonds, and the other (often with pink flowers) producing bitter almonds. try and avoid wild bitter almonds as they can contain between six and eight per cent cyanide. The cyanide can be removed and so they can be used for culinary purposes as well as more sinister ones.
The almond is native to Iran, from northwestern Saudi Arabia, north through western Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, western Syria, to southern Turkey. It is a small deciduous tree, growing to between 4 and 10 metres in height, with a trunk of up to 30 centimetres in diameter. The major producers of Almond today include the U.S.A and most Mediterranean countries.
Almonds are an extremely healthy food and can help lower cholesterol.