Heartland Nuts

Almond Nuts

Ironic enough, almond trees were first brought to the United States from Spain in the 1700s and today the United States is the largest exporter of almond nuts in the world with Spain ranking as the second largest market, behind Germany. California is home to the largest almond nut crop and they rank highest in U.S. horticultural exports, producing nearly 100 percent of domestic almond consumption and nearly 75 percent of worldwide consumption.

Almond nuts are, like all nuts, more beneficial to a healthy diet than one might think. They are high in calories, but when eaten as part of a well-balanced diet, can lower blood cholesterol levels, as nuts are believed to be a good source of the "good" fats. Almond nuts are also a source of protein, calcium and vitamin E. Almond nuts are crunchy and have a mildly bittersweet taste.

Almond nuts have a distinct flavor when added to foods and are often used in paste form in place of marzipan for confectionery delights. Almond paste is coarser than marzipan, but just as pliable and is often preferred for its flavor. Almond extract is another popular flavoring for culinary use and Amaretto, though actually a liqueur, is often a flavoring name given to other products made with almond flavoring. Coffee for example is often given this unique flavoring and served espresso style with whipped cream, sprinkled with ginger or cinnamon.

Almond nuts provide a complimentary flavor to Asian and Mediterranean style dishes, especially with shrimp or chicken. They are also excellent atop salads. Though almonds compliment many desserts, cherry flavored sweets go particularly well with the almond flavoring. It is hard to say whether this nut is used more in cooking or baking, but any dish can be enhanced with the flavor of almond nuts. A variety of recipes can be found online.

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