When you want the essence of almond flavor, but not actual almond itself, you use almond extract. Think of it as the distilled, heavily concentrated version of the almond.
It is made into a liquid of just three ingredients (if it is pure): alcohol, water, and bitter almond oil. Almond oil is extracted from almonds themselves or from their closely related botanical friends in the drupe family.
Peaches, apricots, cherries, plums and more fall into the drupe category along with almonds. The almond “flavor” we all know and love comes from something called, “benzaldehyde.” Now without getting too scientific, this is a substance found in the kernels or pits of these fruits also known as stone fruits.
While some varieties will have bitter almond oil only, many have a mix of almonds and fruits or only a mix of stone fruits. Crazy!
If you know what you use vanilla extract for, then you know what you use this for. I think of them as one and the same. This intensely flavored liquid is most often used in baking recipes for things like cookies and cakes and is also used in lots of dessert recipes as well. Just like vanilla extract, a little goes a long way.
Is pure almond extract dangerous?
Long story short, no. While there are amygdalin and cyanide in bitter almonds, those two ingredients are removed from the nut (or pit) during crushing, soaking, and washing process they endure. What’s left is pure benzaldehyde. It would downing a few hundred bottles of extract to give you a lethal dose.
What is the difference between pure almond extract and imitation almond extract?
The answer to this is super simple. Pure almond extract is alcohol, water, and bitter almond oil mixed. The imitation variety is a mix of water, alcohol, and synthetic bitter almond oil or benzaldehyde created in a lab. (Crazy, right?!)
What is the best almond extract?
There is no one correct answer to this question and it is likely based on personal preference. I like to get pure extract when I can versus imitation extract. The folks in the lab have created quite a product, but the pure almond extract is a little more subtle in my opinion.
What does almond extract taste like?
It is very similar to the almond flavor liqueur, amaretto, in terms of flavor if you have ever tasted that. It has a very strong almond taste while being a touch sweet.