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Everything You Need to Know About Almonds

  • By JC's
  • September 18, 2019
  • In News

Have you heard that Old Wives’ Tale about almonds? Apparently, if you eat a handful before drinking alcohol, you ward off any chance of a hangover! Whether or not this is a fact is yet to be seen, but there is certainly a heap of reasons to munch on one of the world’s oldest nuts.
From their rich history and their social influence over the decades, right down to their many health benefits, read on for a deep dive into almonds and everything you need to know about them!

The history of almonds

 

They’re getting a lot of attention in the media lately for being nutritional powerhouses – but did you know almonds are no modern phenomenon? In fact, they date way back! It is said that almonds are one of the first ever cultivated foods. They’re even mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible.

 

Some of the first almonds were found in China, from where traders transported them as far and wide as they could. The almond tree made its way to California in the mid 1700’s, where the industry began to blossom. During the 1800’s, we saw scientific investment and research in the nut, as well as crossbreeding to create new varieties.

 

Over the years, they’ve maintained something of a position of prestige, having religious, social and ethnic significance. The Romans believed almonds enhanced fertility, so showered newlyweds in handfuls of them – because who needs confetti?

Where do almonds grow?

 

We can mostly thank our American friends for their ideal almond-growing environment. Although this impressive nut is native to particular regions across Syria, Turkey, and Israel, it’s been known to spread to Europe and Africa, too. However, the Golden State of California, USA, is flying the biggest almond flag these days.

 

It’s estimated that California produces over 80% of the world’s almonds. The demand for this crunchy, lightly-salted nut is mostly driven by Chinese and Indian markets, where it’s praised for its healthy snacking qualities.

 

After the United States, the top almond-growing countries (in order) are Australia, Spain ,Morocco & Iran.

 

But what makes these climates so ideal? Almond trees like warm, dry weather, but timing is also super important. Almonds bloom earlier than other fruit trees, so can be harmed by frost if they’re not picked in a timely manner. Tropical climates are also less than ideal, because extreme temperatures can inhibit growth, causing shrinkage of the almonds.

5 health benefits of almonds

 

Pour a balanced diet into the palm of your hands! Almonds have all the goodness you’d expect from most nuts – think vitamins and nutrients – with a few other suspected health benefits on top. Let’s take a look at how you’re treating your body when you chew on almonds:

 

  1. Almonds are packed with nutrients. Their health profile is nothing short of impressive, with a portion of almonds delivering a healthy dose of monounsaturated fats, fibre, protein, vitamin E, manganese and magnesium.
  2. They’re a handy source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are an important part of your diet, as they protect against oxidative stress, something that causes molecule damage, inflammation, ageing and some diseases.
  3. They can be used to control diabetes. There’s evidence to show almonds can help people with type 2 diabetes, as they can regulate blood glucose and cholesterol levels. They’re low in carbs but high in healthy fats, protein and fibre, making them an ideal choice for those suffering with diabetes.
  4. They can lower your cholesterol. “Bad cholesterol” or “high levels of LDL lipoproteins” can lead to health complications, such as heart disease. A diet that regularly includes almonds could lower cholesterol levels, according to some studies.
  5. They can satisfy your hunger. Feeling a little peckish? A handful of almonds has hunger-fighting properties to make you feel fuller for longer, which could stop you from over-indulging and help maintain a healthy weight.

Almond milk: Is it just for hipsters?

 

Almonds can traditionally be eaten raw or roasted, but more recently are used to make milk, butter and flour. As more and more people are moving towards a plant-based diet, it’s not uncommon for your local coffee shop to offer almond milk as an alternative to cow’s milk.

But is this just a craze, or does it make sense to move away from dairy when we go for our caffeine fix?

Almond milk is made by blending almonds with water and then straining the solution to get rid of any solids. The result tastes almost similar to regular milk, with a nutty hint that can give your tea or coffee a pleasant flavour (one that many people prefer!) It’s nutritious, low in calories, dairy-free and could reduce the risk of heart disease. With most of the health benefits we get from almonds, we can’t see this craze dying out anytime soon!

How to roast almonds

 

Roasting almonds at home is fun, easy and something that everyone can do. Create unique creations in mere minutes by using spices, seasonings and oil for truly delicious results every time.

 

Oven baked

 

Oven baking almonds is a great technique that requires minimal work. 

Step one is to heat your oven to 180°C so that you have enough heat for roasting. 

From there, line a baking pan with greased paper and spread the almonds in a single layer on top. 

Roast for five to ten minutes, shaking your dish regularly to ensure that the nuts don’t burn. You’ll know when the process is complete because the almonds will turn golden brown in colour and release a delectable aroma. 

Simply empty the baked goodies onto a cutting board or dish for cooling and they’ll be ready to eat in no time! 

Pan cooked

 

Pour almonds into a stainless steel skillet and cook over medium heat. Continuously stir until they turn golden brown and fill the room with a nutty smell. 

Allow around three to five minutes for this process and remove from the pan to cool once finished. 

Tip – Keep everything moving to avoid burning and remember that the almonds will continue cooking slightly even after they have been removed from the heat.

Microwave

 

If you’re handling small batches and want to roast almonds quickly, then this method is for you.

Spread the almonds in a single layer on a microwaveable plate that is lined with paper towel. 

Pour 1.5 teaspoons of melted butter or vegetable oil over the top and toss evenly to ensure a consistent coating.

Cook on high for one minute and then stir, before continuing the process in one minute increments until you are left with golden brown nuts and a fragrant smell. 

Note, cooking times may vary based on the power of your microwave. This method can take anywhere from three to five minutes overall.   

 

Storing roasted almonds and raw almonds

 

Roasted almonds in an airtight container can be stored for up to a year in the fridge or freezer, which means that you can literally enjoy delicious, healthy treats all year round. As for their raw counterparts? They can be kept in an airtight container for up to two years and even longer when frozen. 

 

To roast or not to roast?

 

When it comes to taste, roasted almonds boast a rich, flavourful taste that is popular in households all across Australia. Raw almonds on the other hand, have a light, buttery flavour that provides a great crunch. In terms of nutritional value, natural almonds and roasted almonds share similar levels of fat, protein and carbs. The main difference being that almonds roasted in oil hold slightly more fat because of the cooking process. Due to their density, this amounts to very little oil absorption (roughly 2-5%).

When it comes to choosing between the two? There’s no going wrong! 

 

Healthy snacking with J.C.’s Quality Foods

 

J.C.’s Quality Foods is dedicated to delivering fresh, quality fruits and nuts that are grown both in Australia and around the world, and packaged in Melbourne. Get in touch or order today to experience the health benefits of a balanced diet that’s nutty in all the right ways.