From almonds grown in Texas to those grown in California, we are covering 23 types of almonds in this comprehensive guide to almond varieties!
What Are Almonds?
Well lets just stir things up right away. Almonds are not a type of nut. They are the seed of a fruit that comes from almond trees. They are a stone fruit (like a cherry, plum, or peach). They all have a fleshy fruit surrounding a pit on the inside. For culinary purposes, however, most people consider almonds nuts.
Almond Flavor Characteristics
Almond Taste: Almonds have a natural sweetness that is often described as mild and subtle. This sweetness is one of the reasons why they are a common ingredient in desserts, snacks, and baked goods. They also have a rich, nutty flavor that is more pronounced when they are roasted or toasted. This nuttiness makes them a popular choice for almond butter and almond-flavored products.
Almond Texture: The texture of almonds is best described as creamy. When you bite into a raw or roasted almond, you’ll notice a pleasant creaminess in its texture, especially if they are fresh. This creaminess enhances their overall taste and mouthfeel.
Almond Aroma: The aroma of almonds is another important aspect of their taste experience. While their aroma is not overpowering, they have a fragrant, nutty scent that can be quite enticing, whether you’re eating them plain or using them in cooking.
Ways You can Buy Almonds
Unless you go to a specialty market, your grocery store is only apt to have a few different types of almonds. They may, however, have almonds prepared in a variety of ways to include:
- In Shell: These are just plain almonds exactly as they come, in their hard shell.
- Kernel: The part we eat is the kernel of the seed. These can either come natural (unprocessed) or blanches (brown skin removed).
- Slices or Flakes: Thinly sliced and either natural or blanched, these are great for topping salads or garnishing desserts.
- Almond Paste or Almond Butter: This is made by roasting almonds before milling them into a paste. You can easily make homemade almond butter.
- Almond Flour: This is a high-quality alternative to wheat-based flour particularly for those limiting their carbs and those seeking to lower the glycemic index of their foods.
- Protein Powder: There are quite a few almond based protein powders on the market. They tend to have a slightly lower percentage of their calories coming from protein, but are generally higher in fiber and healthy fat than other powders. They are a good option for those on a vegan diet who want to add protein to their diet.
- Milk: Almonds in water are pulverized then strained to create a delicious milk substitute. Almond milk can be lower in calories with as little as 30 calories per cup, and is a good option for those with lactose intolerance. You can easily make your own homemade almond milk.
What Are Activated Almonds?
Before we get into all the types of almonds, we need to touch on one more topic – activated almonds. These are almonds that have gone through a soaking and dehydrating process which makes them easier to digest and allows you to more readily absorb the nutrition in the almonds.
How much water does it take to grow a single almond? Scroll to the bottom for the answer!
Different Types of Almonds
- Aldrich Almonds
- All-in-One Almonds
- Butte Almonds
- Carmel Almonds
- Casselman Almonds
- Ferraduel Almonds
- Ferragnes Almonds
- Fritz Almonds
- Green Almonds
- Independence Almonds
- Jordan Almonds
- Lonestar Almonds
- Mamra Almonds
- Mission Almonds
- Ne Plus Ultra Almonds
- Nikita Almonds
- Nonpareil Almonds
- Peerless Almonds
- Ruby Almonds
- Ruby-Cabernet Almonds
- Sonora Almonds
- Texas Mission Almonds
- Tuono Almonds
These California almonds are medium to large-sized with a slightly elongated shape. They have a sweet and buttery flavor, making them a popular choice for snacking. Aldrich almonds are often used in baking, confectionery, and as a topping for salads or yogurt due to their pleasant taste and texture.
This is another California almond variety. They are medium-sized almonds with a classic oval shape. They have a sweet, nutty flavor with a slight crunch. All-in-One almonds are versatile and can be used in a variety of culinary applications, including snacking, baking, and making almond butter. On a side note, these almonds are known for their self-pollinating capability, which makes them a popular choice for orchards.
Also known as Padre almonds, they are predominantly grown in California. They are medium-sized with a round shape, and offer a balanced flavor profile with a mix of sweetness and nuttiness. Butte almonds are often used in almond milk production, as well as in the production of almond-based products like almond flour and almond paste. They are a popular choice among almond growers due to their reliable production and adaptability to different growing conditions.
While carmel almonds are grown in California, they are also grown in other nations with Israel being a fairly large producer. These medium-sized almonds have an elongated, slightly pointed shape. They are known for their rich, sweet and nutty flavor and crunchy texture. Carmel almonds are widely used for snacking and are also popular in the production of almond-based desserts like marzipan and almond brittle.
Yet another California almond, these almonds are medium-sized with a classic almond shape. They have a sweet and mild flavor, making them a versatile choice for various recipes. They are commonly used in baking, confectionery, and as a topping for cereals and salads.
This is a French almond developed by The French Institute For Invertebrate Enhancement. They are medium-sized and have a round shape. They offer a rich, sweet flavor with a pleasant crunch. Ferraduel almonds are used in various culinary applications, including snacking, baking, and making almond-based spreads.
Ferragnes almonds are primarily grown in Mediterranean countries like Spain and Italy. These almonds are medium to large-sized, have an elongated shape, and are thin shelled. They are renowned for their intense, slightly bitter almond flavor. Ferragnes almonds are often used in traditional Mediterranean desserts like nougat and almond cakes.
Fritz almonds are grown in California, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley region. These almonds are medium-sized with a classic oval shape, but a semi-hard texture. They have a sweet, nutty flavor.
Green almonds are not a specific almond variety but rather young almonds harvested before they fully mature. They can be found in almond-growing regions worldwide. They are quite different from mature almonds. Green almonds have a soft, fuzzy green outer shell and a jelly-like interior with a tart and slightly sour taste. Green almonds are often pickled or used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine where they are incorporated into salads, stews, or simply enjoyed with salt.
Independence almonds are primarily grown in California, and have a slightly elongated shape and average size. They are known for their sweet, mild flavor and a crunchy texture. They are known for their consistently high quality, and are often exported for that reason. You can use these almonds in all the same ways you might others. Give them a try in these homemade larabars.
Jordan almonds are a type of almond candy, rather than a specific almond variety. They are traditionally associated with weddings and other celebrations. Jordan almonds have been coated in a colorful candy shell which is generally crunchy, while the almond inside is sweet and nutty. The tradition of giving Jordan almonds at weddings dates back centuries and is thought to symbolize the bittersweet nature of marriage. Well that is a downer. Nothing says congratulations like a candy to symbolize marital strife.
You might think with a name like Lonestar, this almond variety would be grown in Texas, but no such luck. California’s hold on the almond industry includes these as well. They are typically medium-sized with a smooth, slightly wrinkled surface, and have a sweet, nutty flavor.
Mamra almonds grow in Afghanistan, Iran, and India. They are known for their high oil content which is about twice that found in California almond varieties. They provide a heavy dose of healthy fats that many people want when they use almonds as a snack. Try them in these homemade larabars.
Mission almonds are small and round with a dark brown, almost black, skin. They have a rich, intense almond flavor. They are often used in making almond paste and marzipan due to their strong flavor and dark color. Did we say they grow in California?
Ne Plus Ultra Almonds
As California almonds go, this is a relatively old variety developed in the early 1900s. Almonds came to California in the 1840s, and over time growers have developed many new varieties trying to perfect taste, yields, storability, etc. They are known for their sweet and delicate flavor with a slightly crisp texture.
Nikita are large almonds with a rich flavor making them a good snacking almond, but they are often used in making almond milk as well.
Nonpareil are grown in both Spain and Australia, and of course California. In fact, they are California’s most grown almond and arguably the most popular almond in the world. Nonpareil is French for “having no equal” which is generally how these almonds are viewed. They are flat sweet almonds with a lighter shade than others, and are considered the benchmark for almond quality and flavor. Nonpareil almonds are widely used in both sweet and savory dishes. They are commonly used in baking, confectionery, and as a topping for salads and yogurt.
Peerless almonds are also grown in Australia as well as California’s Central Valley. These almonds are medium-sized and have a slightly pointed, oval shape. They are known for their sweet and nutty flavor, which is less intense than some other varieties.
Another product of California’s Central Valley, the ruby almond got its name from the reddish tint they display after processing. Ruby almonds are medium-sized with a smooth, glossy skin. They have a sweet and slightly fruity flavor with a hint of cherry notes, which sets them apart from other almond varieties. Ruby almonds are often enjoyed as a snack and are used in desserts and confectionery due to their unique flavor.
Ruby-Cabernet almonds, a product of California, are known for their distinctive ruby-red skin and sweet, rich flavor. They have a slightly thicker skin compared to some other almond varieties.
Sonora almonds are predominantly grown in Mexico as well as in parts of Australia. Sonora almonds are known for their smooth, tan-colored shells and a sweet, mild flavor. They have a delicate and slightly buttery taste.
Texas Mission Almonds
Despite the saying “Everything is Bigger in Texas”, this Texas grown almond is smaller in size compared to some other varieties, with a tan-colored shell. They have a nutty and slightly sweet taste. They are often used as a snack almond, but also popular in a variety of traditional Texan recipes.
Tuono almonds are mainly grown in Italy, particularly on the Island of Sicily. Tuono almonds are known for their hard shells and a slightly bitter taste compared to the sweet almonds typically found in California. They are commonly used in traditional Italian recipes, such as biscotti and amaretti cookies.
Origin and History of Almonds
Almonds likely originated in the region that now includes Iran, Afghanistan, and surrounding areas in the Middle East. Almonds were among the earliest cultivated tree nuts and have been a part of human diets for millennia. We believe they have been cultivated for over 4,000 years, and were likely picked wild before that. The ancient Egyptians left evidence of their consumption of almonds, and they are mentioned in the Bible as a prized food.
Almonds spread to the Mediterranean region, where they thrived in the arid climate. The Romans are believed to have been particularly fond of almonds, and they introduced almond trees to various parts of Europe during their expansion (1,800 – 2,000 years ago). During the Moorish occupation of Spain in the 8th to 15th centuries, almond cultivation and processing techniques were further improved resulting in some of today’s almond varieties. Almonds were introduced to the Americas by Spanish explorers and missionaries in the 18th century, and in the 1840s reached California where they grow well.
Today, almonds are one of the most popular and widely cultivated nuts in the world. The United States, particularly California, is the largest producer of almonds, accounting for the majority of global almond production. Actually, it isn’t even a race. California produces over 80% of the world’s almonds. Outside of the United States, almonds are also produced in Spain, Australia, Iran, and Morocco.
California almond farming has faced scrutiny due to its water-intensive nature. However, many almond growers have adopted more sustainable practices, including efficient irrigation systems and the use of almond shells as a renewable energy source.
Almond Nutrition Information
100g (about 3.5 ounces) of almonds contains
- Calories: 576
- Fat: 49g
- Protein: 21g
- Fiber: 12g
- Vitamin E: 160% RDA (recommended daily allowance)
- Calcium: 26%
- Iron: 20%
- Potassium: 17%
This wraps up our look at different almond varieties. We hope you found something you can use, and as always happy cooking!
It takes 1.1 gallons to grow 1 almond or 1,900 gallons per pound.