Green Almonds

Basket of Green Almonds
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Green almonds are a beloved treat in areas rich in almond orchards. They are increasingly available past the shade of the almond trees. The fuzz on the outside may feel familiar; it reminds one that almonds and peaches are closely related, at least botanically speaking. These fuzzy green ovals are fully edible, although most people find the shell a bit bitter and don't eat them. More classically, the green almonds are cut open and the soft, somewhat gelatinous embryonic almonds in the centers are popped out and eaten; they are the real treasure of these unusual treats.

How Do Green Almonds Taste?

Green almonds have a delicate almond flavor (no surprise there!). They are particularly delicious lightly dipped into sea salt. Their main appeal, as mentioned above, is their soft-yet-firm texture that is just a bit gelatinous but with a sense of the nut, it's going to become. Green almonds get firmer in texture as the season goes on—early ones can be translucent and have an almost grape-like texture while later ones take on a milky opaque look and feel more like soft almonds when bitten.

Where Can I Buy Green Almonds?

In order to have green almonds, you need to have almond orchards, and the vast majority of those in the United States are in California. Californians will find green almonds at farmers markets when they're in season. Others will have to check out specialty markets that ship them in. They are gaining a steady audience - so keep your eyes open, they may come your way if they aren't there yet.

When Is Green Almond Season?

Green almonds are just unripe almonds. If they're left on the tree, the soft and fuzzy green part will slowly but surely harden into the tough brown shell that protects a mature almond. Picked too early, and there isn't much of an "almond" inside yet; picked too late and the shell has turned tough and inedible. That means green almonds are at their best during a 6- to 8-week window in spring, usually from April to early June in California.

How to Use Green Almonds

Green almonds make a great out-of-hand snack. Dip them in salt or sugar, as you like and if you like. If you can't get enough green almonds that way, try adding them to salads. They make a particularly good match with sweet spring peas or little gem lettuces. Green almonds also work wonders in Spanish white garlic almond soup - you won't need to blanch and peel the almonds. Or, keep their delicate flavor around a bit longer and make pickled green almonds.

How to Store Green Almonds

Fresh green almonds can be kept at cool room temperature for a few days after harvest. Extend their life by a bit (but not much), by wrapping them loosely in plastic and popping them in the fridge. In truth, though, green almonds are one of the many spring delicacies that are truly at their best the closer you can get them to when they're harvested. If you can get yourself an invitation to walk through an almond orchard in late April, accept it!