Ever tasted a green (unripe) almond? I didn’t even know that green almonds existed, until my friend Linda Burnett, who writes a wonderful blog about Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and West Roxbury, took me on a culinary tour of Roslindale. While I’m going to do a separate post about the wonderful places she showed me, I can’t wait to tell you about the amazing green almonds I bought at Droubi Bakery, a little Middle Eastern store in Rozzie.
The little green fuzzy ovals look a little like apricots and–in fact–are related to them. I watched, amazed, as Linda picked up one of these orbs and cracked it open with her teeth. Inside, there was a pale almond, which reminded me a bit of a green soybean.
I cracked one open myself—thanks for all those trips to the dentist, mom and dad—and plucked out the almond. At first, all I tasted was green, like I was eating grass, but the second and lingering taste was a distinct almond flavor. While I can’t say I’m “nuts” about them, they are fun to eat.
I bought a pound of these guys and brought them home. I’ve just been snacking on them, but I was curious about what other people, especially chefs, do with them, so I went online to do a little research.
I learned that almonds are not a true nut – they’re actually a seed of the almond tree. Almond trees are related to plums and cherries, but instead of having a tasty, fleshy coat like those other fruits, it has a thick, downy coat covering the shell, where the seed is hidden. The shells harden up after they are harvested into that dark brown pointy covering that we usually open with a nutcracker.
So how do you eat them? Some people say the whole thing, including the fuzzy part, is edible when soft enough, and they roll them in salt and olive oil and eat it all. I tasted a bit of the shell and it was like eating an insect. So no thank you.
According to the Almond Board, the marketing outlet for California almonds, chefs are pairing green almonds with fish, meat, and salads. Frankly, I’ve never seen them on a menu, but now I’m curious to try them in a dish.
Want to try green almonds? Better look for them fast. Green almonds are typically available for about 8 weeks, from late April to the middle of June, although I just bought mine in late June.
Are you nuts about green almonds? Have a recipe for them? Been to a restaurant that served them? Do tell!