After limited pickings during the winter months, spring has begun to yield food treasures. But you may have to be a good treasure hunter to find things that are new (to you) and special.
One tip is to ask when you see something unfamiliar, like the fuzzy green “beans” in the photo. They’re actually green (unripe) almonds.
For a window of three to four weeks, reports Hannah Kaminsky, green almonds may be hiding in plain sight at your local farmers market. You may need a sharp eye: Less known products are often placed behind the more popular fare. Writes Hannah of these immature nuts:
“One would never mistake them for the raw or roasted almonds they can become, which is part of the appeal. Catch familiar nuts on the unripe side and you’ll be treated to a whole new snacking sensation.
“The fuzzy exteriors belie a firm, crunchy texture, wholly edible and entirely delicious from the outside shell to the kernel. Their short window of availability is dictated by the maturation of the almond, as it grows and transforms into the crunchy nut we all know and love.
Unripe green almonds, fuzzy on the outside, remind us that almonds are botanically related to peaches. The soft green shell will harden into the tough brown shell of the mature almond. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.
“Before that happens, the immature almond has a pleasantly bitter taste, with an overriding flavor of lemons and cucumbers, sometimes with a hint of tart grape in the background. Juicy yet crisp, they’re impossibly addictive when eaten with just a light pinch of salt.
“You can also add them to salads, whole or chopped; use them for garnishes on chilled soups (make Spanish chilled almond soup with them!); combine them with spring peas; or otherwise toss them into any raw or cooked food.
“But they’re best when allowed to shine solo. At most, cure them in a lightly sweet and sour brine, and you’ll have the stuff of pickle plate dreams.”
Their soft-yet-firm texture can be like a grape, depending on how unripe they are when picked. But there’s a sense of the nut it’s going to become.
Almond lovers: Head to your farmers market, or find a friend with an almond tree!
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