Thursday, August 14, 2008

Almonds

I love almonds. And almond flavored-things.

I am not a big nut lover, but there is just something about the flavor of an almond. Here is what I found out about almonds:

Apparently, botanically speaking, an almond is not a nut, but a drupe! Wild almonds originated somewhere in the Middle East, where they grow in abundance. Wild almonds are toxic - they contain prussic acid or cyanide (apparently if you roast them they are ok). But the domestic ones do not. Some argue that it is a genetic mutantion that causes them to be non-toxic. They were first grown unintentionally. Almonds were one of the earliest domesticated trees.

Almonds are grown in the USA, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Iran, Morocco, Syria, Algeria, Tuninsia, Greece, Lebanon, China.

There are 2 forms of the plant - one (usually with white flowers) producing sweet almonds and the other (usually with pink flowers) producing bitter almonds. The bitter almonds are the ones which contain cyanaide, sometimes as much as 9 mg per almond!

Almonds are great, almost no carbs at all. 1 cup of almond flour contains 20 grams of carbs, but 10 grams of fiber for a net of 10 carbs.

Sweet almond oil is high in Omega-3 and is used in many skin-softening agents. Jaffra has a line of almond products that are W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L!

The Hebrew name for almond means industrious or vigilant and they bloom sometimes as early as February in Israel. In the Bible the almond is mentioned ten times, beginning with Book of Genesis 43:11, where it is described as "among the best of fruits". In Numbers 17 Levi is chosen from the other tribes of Israel by Aaron's rod, which brought forth almond flowers. According to tradition, the rod of Aaron bore sweet almonds on one side and bitter on the other; if the Israelites followed the Lord, the sweet almonds would be ripe and edible, but if they were to forsake the path of the Lord, the bitter almonds would predominate.

Wow! Almonds are the way to go! At least, I think so! So, without further ado . . .

Almond Syrup
About 3 cups

Ok, strictly speaking, this is not exactly a canning recipe, as you do not hot-water-bath it. But work with me here . . .

1-1/2 cups whole almonds, blanched and skinned (I used blanched, slivered almonds)
2 Tablespoons almond extract
2-1/2 cups cold water
1-3/4 cups sugar

Grind almonds roughly in a food processor. Place in a pan with the almond extract and stir in the water. Add the sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes, then strain through a linen bag. Pour into hot, sterilized bottles and cork immediately. Store in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Now, it being early morning when I made this, I just dumped my slivered almonds in and did not bother grinding them. I strained it thru cheesecloth and I put the syrup in hot 1/4 pint jars and put lids and rings on them.




Then . . . . I had 5 jars of almond syrup, but what to do with my left over syrup and the almonds . . . the wheels started turning, so I put some foil on a pan and sprayed it with cooking spray. Then I dumped the almonds on the foil and ladled the remaining syrup on top and stuck it in the oven for a while on about 300F. The almonds got nice and glazed. Then I dumped them out onto waxed paper and left them to dry. Now, I have nice almond-glazed almonds to top off my baked goods.

6 comments:

chris said...

Oh Raquel I love almonds too, they are great with raspeberry too. Were do yu get yours from?? I always find them very expensive.

Chris

Sue said...

Informative tidbit. I like almonds too but I never would have thought of making a syrup with them.
Ingenious!

Susan said...

Very interesting, Raquel! I love almonds and this syrup sounds so good! Thanks for sharing!

Jan said...

You've done your homework on this, Raquel. :-) Some interesting info here that I didn't know. Your syrup sounds irresistible.

Marie said...

I love almonds and I have loved learning all these interesting facts about them. I have never heard of almond syrup but it does sound delicious as does your lovely idea of the glazed ones!

nicisme said...

I am an almond fan and this looks great!