Green almonds have the briefest whisper of a season in the spring before their shells harden and start looking (and tasting!) more like the almonds we know and love. They are tart and crisp and subversively addictive around cocktail hour. If you see them, promise me that you'll give this uber-seasonal delicacy a try.
Green almonds consist of both the fuzzy green outer hull and the soft inner nut — it's that soft inner part that will eventually grow and harden into an almond. You can eat the entire green almond at this point, fuzzy outside and all. The whole almond has a crisp, watery texture and a tart flavor, like a cross between a green apple and a green grape.
You can also run a paring knife around the outside edge of the green almond, lightly cutting through the hull, and crack the hull open to get at the nut inside (as in the top-most picture, above). The tiny, pale seed is very soft and filled with a jelly-like substance. They taste very mild with a fresh "green" flavor, almost like biting too close to the rind of a watermelon.
I love both versions, but tend toward eating them whole because I love the flavor and texture. So perfect for spring and all my fresh green cravings.
Try tossing the whole almond with a little good olive oil and some sea salt for an easy and elegant party snack. Both the whole almonds and the soft inner nut also make a fun addition to salads. I've also been tempted to chop up my last handful into tiny pieces and mix them into a springtime salsa or relish.
Here's the trick, though: you have to buy these almonds right when they're fresh. They should be a soft green color with no brown spots. They'll keep refrigerated for a few days, but are best eaten right away. Much past their peak, I hear that the pleasing tart flavor starts turning bitter and woody. If you can, try one before buying them.
Have you ever tried green almonds? What do you think of them?
Related: The Other Nut Butter: Almond Butter
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(Images: Emma Christensen)