Almonds, drupes, that people have been eating all over the world for thousands of years.
Eating them will ensure better digestion or smooth skin. And what else?
You will learn how to process almonds and include them in your diet in the following article!
Almonds, a rich source of protein
Almond, Latin Prunus amygdalus, is a type of tree native to Iran. They were one of the first domesticated fruit trees. The almond fruit is a drupe, consisting of an outer skin and a hard shell with a seed.
It is a deciduous tree that grows to a height of 4 to 10 meters. Young branches are green at first, turn purple in the sun and turn gray in the second year. The leaves are 8 to 13 cm long. The color of the flowers is white to light pink. The almond fruit is roughly 3.5-6 cm long.
Almonds are sold shelled or unshelled. They are used in many cuisines, often appearing mainly in desserts such as marzipan.
They do best in a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The optimum temperature for their growth is between 15 and 30 °C.
Why consume almonds?
Almonds are considered a good source of protein. In addition to protein, they contain other important nutritional values that benefit your body. For example, if you want to strengthen your heart, bones or even libido.
Eating almonds helps reduce bad cholesterol levels. They also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help protect you from heart disease.
Although they contain a high amount of calories, they can actually help reduce the risk of weight gain. The protein and fiber in almonds make you feel full faster, so you can better control your calorie intake while satisfying your hunger.
Almonds are rich in valuable nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin E and fiber. Thanks to calcium and phosphorus, they improve bone health and can protect you from fractures.
If you suffer from dry skin, use almond oil. Thanks to the content of healthy fats, your skin will be supple and hydrated.
What is the recommended daily dose ? Approximately 28 to 30 grams of almonds.
Attention, almonds can be a potential allergen.
Almonds are literally packed with nutrients. They are an excellent source of magnesium, calcium or vitamin E. You can see all the nutritional values, minerals and vitamins in the following table:
|Nutritional values||Raw almonds 100 g|
|Vitamin B3||3.618 mg|
|Vitamin E||25.63 mg|
Types of almonds
Now let’s introduce the most commonly consumed types of almonds.
You are probably most familiar with sweet almonds, Prunus dulcis in Latin. These are tasty fruits that are used to make almond oil.
You can also eat them alone or use them in baking. Almond slices or chopped almonds always add a sweeter taste to your desserts.
Bitter almond, a variety of Prunus dulcis amara, is used to make an oil that is used to flavor liqueurs and extracts.
Bitter almonds contain traces of prussic acid, also known as hydrocyanic acid, in its raw state. Hydrocyanic acid is a solution of hydrogen cyanide and water, the byproduct being an organic version of the well-known poison, cyanide. Bitter almonds lose their toxicity by cooking.
These almonds are used in European countries. They are sold in pharmacies in Germany and are an ingredient in Christmas cake. They are used to make marzipan, biscuits or sweet syrup.
Green almonds are unripe almonds that are inside the fruit produced by the almond tree.
This variety tastes like an unripe peach and is slightly crunchy. The seed itself is not yet set and has a consistency more like jelly, even so it has a strong almond flavor.
They are a popular snack in some parts of the Middle East, eaten dipped in salt to offset the sour taste.
When growing almonds, it is important to know that the trees do not tolerate too wet soil and are extremely susceptible to spring frosts. They thrive in mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers in full sun.
Very few almond varieties are self-pollinating and therefore need cross-pollination to produce fruit, so you will need to plant at least two trees side by side. If there is a shortage of space, you can even plant two in the same hole. As the trees grow back and intertwine, they allow the flowers to cross pollinate.
Almonds should be planted in deep, fertile and well-drained sandy loam. Plant them about 6 to 8 meters apart.
Care varies by season. They should be pruned in winter or during the dormant season (December/January) to encourage growth, allow light in and remove any dead or diseased limbs or shoots. During the spring flowering period, almond care should include fertilizing mature trees with urea or manure. During the summer, water and fertilize the trees until harvest.
The trees begin to bear fruit approximately in the third year after planting. Almond fruits are harvested after the skins split and the shell dries and turns brown. Almonds take 180 to 240 days to ripen. To harvest the almonds, shake the tree and then separate the husks from the nut.
Although almonds are often eaten on their own, raw or roasted, they are also part of various dishes. You can use them in different forms, such as whole, sliced or ground into flour.
They are a common addition to breakfast muesli and desserts. Since the 19th century, almonds have been used to make:
- almond butter
- candied sweets
- pastries filled with almond cream
- cookies (macaroni, biscotti and qurabiya)
- Christmas cookies
For inspiration, you can read several recipes for rolls with almonds .
Milk can also be made from almonds. It’s an ideal alternative to plant-based milk and you can make it at home in minutes.
To make milk you will need :
- 250 g raw almonds (soaked overnight in cold water)
- 1.25 l of filtered water
- a pinch of sea salt
- 2 dates
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Place all ingredients in a robotic blender.
- Blend on high speed for at least 1-2 minutes until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Using a thin cloth, strain the mixture from the blender into a bowl.
- Squeeze until all liquid is extracted.
- You can throw away the remaining pulp or add it to baked goods (especially crackers).
- Pour the milk into a glass or covered bottle and chill.
- Almond milk stays fresh for up to 4-5 days. Shake well before drinking as it tends to separate.
Almond oil – it is a rich source of vitamin E. It is obtained from the dried kernel of almonds. It is used in cosmetics and aromatherapy.
Almond flour – ground roasted almonds. You can use it in baking.
Marzipan – smooth, sweetened almond paste that is used in confectionery.
Recent research suggests that almonds may protect the health and immunity of the gastrointestinal tract. Eating a handful of almonds or a glass of almond milk will help keep your gastrointestinal tract moving and prevent constipation. Remember, a healthier gut means a better immune system and a stronger body.