What’s Almond?

FR: Amande GER: Mandel IT: Mandorla SP: Almendra

BOT: Prunus amygdalus (Amygdalus communis)

FAM: Rosaceae

The nuts are the seed of a tree related to the peach, and the fruits look rather like small green peaches. The almond tree is a native of the eastern Mediterranean regions and has been cultivated in southern Europe and the Middle East for many centuries. Today it is grown in almost all warm temperate climates, but Spain and Italy are particularly large producers.

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The fruit of the almond (which surrounds the nut) is tough, fibrous and inedible when ripe, but it is a local delicacy when young and the stone is still soft. It has then a pleasantly sour taste and is often eaten with salt as an aperitif. It may be eaten almost anywhere around the Mediterranean in early summer.

There are many varieties of almond – Jordan, Valencia – such names are commonly used, but these distinctions concern size and shape. The distinction that concerns us is the fundamental flavour difference between sweet and bitter almonds.

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