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Market Watch: Green Almonds


Recently I was in the Batali/Bastianich Italian food megastore Eataly in NYC.  Always a recipe-provoking stop, particularly mid-week when not utterly tourist-jammed and you can actually see the counters and food.  The variety of food and ingredient offerings is as impressive as the block-wide size of this culinary cathedral.  Rarely do I go there and not see something I have never encountered previously.  Never have I been able to leave there empty handed.

On this balmy day I came across a long basket of fuzzy green almonds.  The only other time I've seen them was on the cover of my beloved Zuni Cafe cookbook.  Admittedly, I had no idea what they tasted like, how to cook them, how to eat them, or if I was purchasing them even at a reasonable price.  But, 1) I have made a commitment to trying new foods and ingredients I see at the market and in stores, most particularly when I don't have the slightest idea what will come of them (try this in Chinatown--it's a blast).  Much more often than not I've added a brand new tool to my bag of culinary tricks that I am so happy I didn't leave the earth not having tried.  And 2) if the masterful Judy Rodgers chose to have these almonds as one of only three items on the cover of her recipe treasure trove, there must be something there.

So into my basket went a half pound.

After a little investigating, I learned that these green almonds were the unripe fruit of the almond tree, and while green, the outer flesh, and in turn entire fruit, is edible.  The green-fuzzy flesh is firm and crisp, much like biting into an unripe peach--of which they are a relative and bear a striking resemblance in this form.  The inside almond nut, with which we are much more familiar, was still pale white, soft and jelly-like on the inside.  Biting into that was like a sliver of a firm grape, with just the slightest burst of moisture.


None of the flavors are particularly strong, but just fresh and green and vital.  The outside flesh tastes much like a cross between an unripe peach and a fresh-picked raw green bean.  The center jellied nut was slightly sweeter with just a hint of sour, but again, nothing overpowering.  But the combination of textures and herbaceous qualities I found thrilling and unable to put down.

Green almonds are popular in many Middle Eastern cuisines, simply dipped lightly in a dish of salt as they are eaten.  This way was my favorite.

Like many of their green baby spring cohorts, these green almonds are only available for a brief eight week season from mid-April to mid-June.  I was a little late to the party too this year, but keep your eyes out this week and definitely snap some up if you come across them.  Put them on your radar for next year regardless.



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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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