Monday, November 16, 2015
Almond - 'Prunus dulcis' - fam: Rosaceae
The Almond, Prunus dulcis, syn. Prunus amygdalus, Amygdalus communis, Amygdalus dulcis, is a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia.
The fruit of the almond is a drupe, consisting of an outer hull and a hard shell with the seed, which is not a true nut, inside. Shelling almonds refers to removing the shell to reveal the seed. Almonds are sold already shelled, or unshelled. Blanched almonds are shelled almonds that have been treated with hot water to soften the seedcoat, which is then removed to reveal the white embryo.
The almond fruit measures 3.5–6 cm (1–2 in) long. In botanical terms, it is not a nut, but a drupe. The outer covering or exocarp, fleshy in other members of Prunus, such as the plum and cherry, is instead a thick, leathery, grey-green coat (with a downy exterior), called the hull. Inside the hull is a reticulated, hard, woody shell, like the outside of a peach pit, called the endocarp. Inside the shell is the edible seed, commonly called a nut. Generally, one seed is present, but occasionally two occur.
While the almond is often eaten on its own, raw or toasted, it is also a component of various dishes. Almonds are available in many forms, such as whole, sliced (flaked, slivered), and as flour. Almonds yield almond oil and can also be made into almond butter or almond milk. These products can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Along with other nuts, almonds can be sprinkled over breakfasts and desserts, particularly muesli or ice cream-based dishes. Almonds are used in marzipan, nougat, many pastries, including jesuites, cookies, including French macarons, macaroons, and cakes, including financiers, noghl, and other sweets and desserts. They are also used to make almond butter, a spread similar to peanut butter, popular with peanut allergy sufferers and for its naturally sweeter taste. The young, developing fruit of the almond tree can be eaten whole - "green almonds", when they are still green and fleshy on the outside, and the inner shell has not yet hardened. The fruit is somewhat sour, but is a popular snack in parts of the Middle East, eaten dipped in salt to balance the sour taste. Also in the Middle East they are often eaten with dates.
They are available only from mid-April to mid-June in the Northern Hemisphere; pickling, or brining, extends the fruit's shelf life. 1
REFERENCE: 1 - Wikipedia - Almond.