Saturday, 24 March 2012

Sweet almond (Prunus dulcis)

The sweet almond (Prunus dulcis) is a deciduous tree. These trees are one of the earliest in the year to produce blossom and so are a popular with bees and other beneficial insects. The almonds themselves will be ripe and ready for picking in the autumn. Almonds are often called a nut but they are actually a drupe consisting of an outer fleshy part called a shuck, a hard shell and an inner seed. Ripe almonds look like large green fruits and often split open by themselves exposing the hard shell covering the seed.

Almond blossom (Prunus dulcis)

Sweet almond trees are grown for their edible seed and bitter almonds are grown for the bitter almond oil. If you want to grow this tree ensure you buy a Sweet almond with a soft shell such as the self fertile Prunus x persicoides 'Robijn'. Hard shelled varieties produce a shell that cannot be broken using an ordinary nut cracker. You usually need a hammer or a vice and it is not an easy task. This might not be a problem for commercial growers who use machinery to shell their almonds, but it is hard work for the home grower!

Raw edible parts

The furry outer shuck, seed, gum and blossom are all edible raw. The almond can be sprouted. The blossom can also be used to make a tea. The gum is called badam pisin and is obtained in the autumn from the trunk of older trees. It should be soaked for 8 hours in twice the volume of water to make a jelly like substance. It can then be added to cool summer drinks. It is popular in Southern India. Badam pisin is also used as a substitute for gum tragacanth.

The outer green shuck covering the hard shell of the almond

Green (unripe) almonds are considered a delicacy and are popular in the Mediterranean and Middle East. Almonds are closely related to peaches and nectarines and the furry shuck can be eaten in exactly the same way. It tastes unripe similar to a hard unripe peach or nectarine. The inner unripe tangy seed is soft and white and also edible.

Almonds also have medicinal uses and the kernel of the bitter almond contains laetrile or B17. There is a huge amount of information online regarding this and we leave it to the reader to investigate.

Raw almond milk

1 part almonds
3 parts water
muslin fabric or nut milk bag

Soak the almonds overnight in water. In the morning discard the water and rinse well. Add 1 part Almonds and to 3 parts water to a blender and blend until really smooth. Filter the milk using muslin or a nylon nut milk bag. Squeeze tightly to remove all the liquid. The dry pulp can be used in raw cakes, crackers or muesli. Drink the milk as it is, add flavourings or use it on muesli or other breakfast cereals. A thicker creamier milk or cream can be made by reducing the amount of water used. If time is short, the milk can be made without soaking first.


  1. Excellent information!! Thank you:)

  2. Crack hard almonds with mole grips. Grip them edge to edge; not at the widest part but just a little towards the pointed end. Easy!