Part of the rose family, almond nuts are the fruits of the small tree Prunus dulcis, which is related to the peach.
The nut is almond, or tear-shaped and has a distinctive light green seed shell, light brown corrugated shell when roasted. Almonds lack the sweet fleshy fruit of other members of Prunus, like peaches, plums and cherries. In place almonds have a leathery coat, called a hull, which contains the nut, inside a hard shell. An almond shell is more beige in colour and is pitted with small holes. Almonds are either sold in the shell, or de-hulled.
The tree is a native of southwest Asia, but is very hardy and grows well in temperate regions like southern Europe, California and Australia. Wild almonds can still be found in the Middle East: Syria, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon.
Domesticated almonds have been grown for over 5000 years, and were found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun (about 1325 BC). Major production centres are now in southern Europe and California. Trees must be pollinated for almonds to form, and in California this involves over 1 million bee hives being trucked in every February, the largest managed pollination in the world.
Almonds are most commonly eaten raw or roasted, or as part of a dessert, such as baklava.
Available: all year round; Australian grown almonds are harvested in February/March.
Interesting Facts and Myths?
Historians generally agree that almonds and dates, both mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible, were among the earliest cultivated foods.
Almonds are the oldest, most widely cultivated and extensively used nuts in the world.
Botanical Name: Prunus dulcis syn. Prunus amygdalus
SA – Adelaide hills and Riverland
VIC – Sunraysia
NSW – Southern Area