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Green Spring Almonds


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I hardly ever see those in the US, but now is their season and when I noticed some at a local middle eastern shop I had to pick a bunch up. They are delightfully tangy and go great with a little salt and a glass of Arak or beer.

For those who do not kow what they are, these are green almonds (baby almonds, unripe almonds). You just eat the whole thing, no cracking no pealing.

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Does anyone else like them? Ever had them? Are they popular anywhere else other than the middle east?

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Some of the people around here pickle them. I don't know where the tradition originated. They are Portugese and Sardinian.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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You really eat the whole thing?! Even when I had them in Beirut, they cracked them open and put the almond-y part in salted water. But maybe they were a little older? Because I've read some descriptions of them where the inside (that later becomes the almond) is just a sort of goo. But whenever I've gotten them here, the insides have been pretty well formed. I'll have to try popping the whole thing in my mouth next time...

Zora O’Neill aka "Zora"

Roving Gastronome

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You really eat the whole thing?!  Even when I had them in Beirut, they cracked them open and put the almond-y part in salted water.  But maybe they were a little older?  Because I've read some descriptions of them where the inside (that later becomes the almond) is just a sort of goo.  But whenever I've gotten them here, the insides have been pretty well formed.  I'll have to try popping the whole thing in my mouth next time...

The stages of almonds (this is by no means scientific, just my experience):

1- What is pictured above, the whole thing is eaten. The "almond nut" itself is only a "goo" like you said. The outside is crunchy and tangy.

2- The nuty has formed and is hard with very thin pale yellow skin. The outside green part is pretty hard and is not edible. SO you crack it and eat the white nut. It is still easy enough to crack by using the teeth as tools :smile:.

3- The outside is very hard and sometimes is opening up on it's own. You need a nut cracker to open this one or really strong teeth. The almond is fully formed and is covered by the familiar thin brown skin.

4- Toasted/untoasted dry almonds.

In Lebanon we enjoy each one of these stages. In the US it is mainly #4 that we see.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Almonds are grown near my home and there are a couple of U-Pick places that allow a limited amount of picking of the green almonds. There is an Almond Festival. I don't recall exactly when it is but will check with the C of C later today.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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In Turkey, when they are crisp, fuzzy and green, they are delicious with a glass of anise flavored raki. If you find them too sour, you can soak them in salted water for a short time or if you don't, simply split the hull in half, discard the gelatinous liquid, pick up one of the halves and dip into into fine salt before popping in your mouth.

In southeastern Turkey, they are used as a garnish in cold yogurt soup.

By midsummer when the fruit mutates, the membrane turns into a hard shell, and the fluid inside turns into a moist, sweet teardrop-shaped fresh green almond---this is when I've seen Tunisians scatter them on salads and Moroccans use them in their chicken with turmeric and ginger kdra tagines. To open them up you will need to stick them in a 350 oven for a few minutes then run a knife along the slit. Some chefs soak them in salted water with a little milk to firm them up so they can be sauteed or sliced.

Two years ago, I bought some from Big valley farms...www.bignut.com

Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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For New Yorkers - I saw them in Fairway last week.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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I'll be keeping my eye out from them, but I don't know if it will be the same as buying them on the street in Beirut and then sitting in class munching them with one hand while taking notes with the other.

Or buying them through the schoolbus window :biggrin:

I doubt these will reach the midwest.

Hey, wasn't there a thread about this last year? I think it was my first post.

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I'll be keeping my eye out from them, but I don't know if it will be the same as buying them on the street in Beirut and then sitting in class munching them with one hand while taking notes with the other.

LOL....this brings up so many memories. Almonds, Janareks, cherries, Akidinia. All these were classroom favorites :biggrin:

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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FoodMan--

they have these at my local market (Montreal), but they are slightly fuzzy on the outside and unbrined or unpickled--i.e., absolutely fresh.

should i just be able to wash them and brine them for a few days to enjoy them as you've pictured? (thanks.)

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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FoodMan--

they have these at my local market (Montreal), but they are slightly fuzzy on the outside and unbrined or unpickled--i.e., absolutely fresh.

should i just be able to wash them and brine them for a few days to enjoy them as you've pictured? (thanks.)

You shouldn't have to brine them if they are young enough. The natives just wash them, and while still wet dip 'em in a little salt and eat them, fuzz and all. You can skip the salt part. We dip everything in salt.

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FoodMan--

they have these at my local market (Montreal), but they are slightly fuzzy on the outside and unbrined or unpickled--i.e., absolutely fresh.

should i just be able to wash them and brine them for a few days to enjoy them as you've pictured? (thanks.)

You shouldn't have to brine them if they are young enough. The natives just wash them, and while still wet dip 'em in a little salt and eat them, fuzz and all. You can skip the salt part. We dip everything in salt.

Exactly. The ones pictured are just washed and cooled. Just make sure they are tender enough to eat the whole thing, they should not offer more resistance than say a crunchy cucumber :biggrin:. We definitly dip everything in salt. My grandma even likes her fresh squeezed orange juice with a sprinkling of salt :wacko: .

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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These have already made their appearance here in NY. To my fellow New Yorkers: they (the green tangy ones you can eat whole) are currently available at Sahadi's. The batch I had the other day was really crunchy and sour :wacko:, just the way I like them.

"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler
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These have already made their appearance here in NY. To my fellow New Yorkers: they (the green tangy ones you can eat whole) are currently available at Sahadi's. The batch I had the other day was really crunchy and sour :wacko:, just the way I like them.

Had my first batch about a week ago sliced thin as part of a Ceviche dish, in Catit restaurant. (currently one of the top palces in Israel)

http://www.catit.co.il/

Boaziko

"Eat every meal as if it's your first and last on earth" (Conrad Rosenblatt 1935)

http://foodha.blogli.co.il/

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When I was growing up we had an almond tree in our backyard. Being impatient people who were fascinated by the idea of picking our own food (i.e., playing farmer), my brother and I ate the almonds at every stage of their development. We never thought to eat the fuzzy green part though, which is surprising since we tried everything else in sight (flowers, grass, poisonous bulbs...yeah, thank God for poison control). But anyway, I liked the clear goo in the middle and my favorite stage were the very tender, sweet, young nuts with just developing skin. Mmmm... the tree died. Now I eat almonds from a package.

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  • 2 weeks later...
they're showing up in la farmers markets now .. just last week i had them twice.

Which LA farmers market?

Probably Glendale and Santa Monica.

I just bought some at an Armenian/Middle Eastern Market called Golden Farms on San Fernando Road. They also have fresh fava beans and fresh garbanzo beans.

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  • 3 weeks later...

:unsure: marhaba!

i'm new to egullet and new to posting...and so the little clickable smile i chose happened to be named "unsure"! which is exactly how i'm feeling right now! i hope i do this right!

very delighted to have joined this interesting group of people to discuss the topic i love, lebanese food!!! (well, and food in general!)

specifically, i'm replying to this post, because in 1997, when an excerpt from my lebanese family cookbook, alice's kitchen, was printed in aramco world magazine (jan/feb issue), and i wrote about my memories of eating green almonds in l.a. as i was growing up, one of the readers of the article wrote to me.

he was a civil engineer who was assigned in his early years as the designer of a lethal gas chamber, which he begged his boss not to work on, without success and in fact with the threat of losing his job if he refused. having a wife and 3 kids to support, and his wife pregnant with twins, he succumbed to the horrific task.

the relevant point is he warned me not to eat too many green almonds "as they are loaded with HCL (hydro-cyanic acid) which is lethal." he further wrote "today, if he smells roasting almonds, he gets "a migraine headache from the memory of the smell of HCN, just like roasting almonds."

now, i'm not sure if it's HCL or HCN, because he used both acronyms...the bottom line is that moderation in eating these is best. perhaps the salt or brining does something to neutralize the hydro-cyanic acid...does anyone know? i just know we ate them raw, but not too many! and loved them!

btw, is there some tutorial on how to do these posts somewhere!?? thanks!!!

author of Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese CookingAlice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking

www.lindasawaya.com

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Welcome to egullt Linda! Great introductory post.

I did a quick search and according to this site

Bitter almonds (Prunus amygdalus amara): These are generally smaller and more pointed than sweet almonds and have an astringent, bitter flavor. Bitter almonds contain approx. 2 - 4% of the glycoside amygdalin, which, in the presence of water and the enzyme emulsin (e.g. in the human digestive tract), releases hydrocyanic (prussic) acid, which is harmful to human health: as few as 7 - 10 bitter almonds eaten raw can cause severe problems and may even be fatal to children. Boiling or baking of the bitter almonds drives off most of the hydrocyanic acid so that there is no need to fear any harmful effects from eating them once cooked.

further in this site

This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Reminds me of ginko nuts and my parents warning me not to eat too many. (a small child died fairly recently from eating too many of those).

Just don't eat too much.

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thanks for your quick search and for your welcome!!!

according to my engineer correspondent, the toxin is present in "the entire plant family of almonds, apricots, peaches, nectarine, etc. all are loaded with HCN when green--by that i mean very green and young kids should not try and pick them."

what this relates to as well in lebanese cooking is my grandmother's use of apricot kernals in our apricot jam. she would tediously crack the seeds of ripe apricots with a hammer (they're very hard to crack!) while sitting outside on the concrete back steps, to extract the kernal inside for addition to the jam. the nuts were blanched and the skins slipped before adding about a cupful to a big batch of apricot jam; otherwise the bitterness of the seeds, which i tasted and remember well, was terrible. this was probably the HCN!!!

author of Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese CookingAlice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking

www.lindasawaya.com

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Ahlein fiki.

WoW. Myself and with few other millions of people must be among the living dead!

We used to eat green almonds by the bucket load and the only ill effect was a tummy ache!

Children and adults eat the stuff all over the Med and enjoy it thoroughly without being sick.

Welcome to the world of spin.

Any food consumed in excess is detrimental to one's health.

Do you know that drinking too much water beyond recommended levels will result in kidney failure and death. So there.

As for the Apricot kernels, I don't know about the California Apricots but only a very particular variant in the Levant produces non bitter and edible kernels. if my memory serves me right they are called Meshmush Ajami (Persian Apricots).

You have these in California?

Blanching bitter Apricot kernel will not remove the bittereness but only separates the skin from the nut and the nut is the bitter one and not the skin. Try it.

Incidentally, clever entrance and plug for your book!

Edited by Almass (log)
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First off, a big warm welcome to the Society Linda!

I have to agree with Almass' comment up there, growing up I ate green almonds by the bucket loads since my family owns almond orchards in Lebanon and never had any ill effect. Could it be the cold beer consumed at the same time that neutralized it :biggrin: ? I really think your engineer friend is at worst case wrong about almonds, or at best exaggerating. I seriously never heard of anyone getting seriously sick from eating almonds.

Now, apricot and peach seeds and the like is a different story. I actually sent a question about the "edible" apricot seeds and the bitter ones used in jams in Lebanon to Dr. Robert Wolke, author of "What Einstein Told His Cook". Click Here to see his reponse to it and to other 'seedy' questions.

Bottom line ,IMHO, is if you get a hold of some green almonds, eat them.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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