What Are Almonds?

Arguably the most famous of the nuts, the almond is seed cultivated from the almond tree which is native to Iran and widely cultivated across the globe.

Close up of sliced almond pound cake

They make a great raw snack, a wonderful substitute to traditional dairy-based milk, salad toppings, addition to granola blends, and more. They are a truly versatile food.

Surprisingly, there are 30 varieties that are grown commercially. Each one is having its own specific purpose, its own shape, and its own size. Flavor also varies slightly. Most have a slightly sweet flavor and a light-colored skin.

Here are a few almond recipes:

What are the benefits of almonds?

They are great for you. They are full of healthy fat as well as protein, fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium. Not only do they help to lower blood sugar levels, decrease blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels, but is thought that just 20 almonds a day can give you these benefits. Not too shabby for a little nut!

Can almonds go bad?

Anything containing fat can go bad. That means yes, these can indeed go bad or rancid. Typically, you will be able to smell a rancid almond. It will smell, well, off.

If you are unsure, pull a single one out and cut it in half. One that is good to go has a solid white center throughout. Should you see any yellow or any sort of honeycomb pattern, you should probably throw them away.

While eating one that has gone bad is not going to hurt you in any way, they will have a really unpleasant bitter taste that will likely overwhelm whatever you are adding them to.

How are almonds sold? 

This nut is sold six ways from Sunday. You can get them toasted or untoasted, salted or unsalted, shell on or blanched, whole or slivered, chopped or sliced, and even ground into a flour consistency. Each preparation has its own benefits and is meant to be used in its own way. The recipe you use will usually signify these.

How do you toast an almond?

I like to buy my almonds raw, untoasted, and unsalted when I can because I like to keep my options open. If you want to dry roast them, simply heat your oven to 350. Spread the almonds in a single layer onto an ungreased baking sheet and pop them in there for 7-10 minutes or until they are golden brown and fragrant.

Pull them from the oven and transfer them to a heatproof vessel to let them cool. Word to the wise, give them 10 minutes or so to cool or you will burn your mouth.

If you want to salt them, toss them in a touch of neutral oil or almond oil – just enough to coat them – when they are out of the oven and sprinkle them with a touch of sea salt. Toss, allow to cool, and enjoy!

As Seen On Better Homes & GardensBuzzFeedCountryLivingMashedMen's JournalParadeThe Philadelphia InquirerDaily Meal