Almond Flour and Almond Meal are both gluten free. Perhaps we need to know more about almonds to understand why this Mediterranean native and cousin of the Peach is so popular.
Sweet Almond production continues to increase in the United States, the world’s highest producer, with over 2.3 billion pounds forecast for the 2018 California crop. With more
than thirty varieties of almond trees about ten of them produce the majority of almonds in California. Sixty to seventy percent of the crop is exported the remainder is used in the United States. The journey of “Orchard to Table” has been nicely presented by the Almond Board of California. There are seven USDA Grades with California’s peak harvest in September. Almonds tree-ripen, and all almonds marketed in the United States are pasteurized because of the outbreak of Salmonella in 2001 and 2004. This includes both conventionally and organically grown nuts. Major almond producing countries in addition to the United States include Spain, Italy, Iran, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Australia, and Greece. The FDA reported that some bitter almonds were imported mixed in with sweet almonds causing some vertigo and cyanide poisoning concerns.
Almond flour and meal consist of 100% of nuts without gluten found in wheat, barley and rye, heavier than wheat flour and has more calories and fat. Unblanched retains the brown skin. Flour is finer than meal. Making it at home is simple and less expensive if you have a food processor. Simply add about a quarter cup at a time and pulse, work it through a fine sieve to make it finer in texture. If you are looking for inspiration Blue Diamond has put together a Almond Cookbook with over fifty-recipes breakfast to desert. Elana Amsterdam has a gluten free almond focused cookbook as well. One of my favorite places to use almond flour is to dust a pie pan when making quiche instead of using a gluten free crust. Almond flour can be used as a thickener for soups and like breadcrumbs on casseroles, vegetables, and meats.
Commercial sources for almond flour can probably be found at your local grocer. Supermarkets like Publix, Giant Foods, Krogers, Target, and Walmart carry products like Bob’s Red Mill Super Fine Almond Flour, Krusteaz Gluten Free Almond Flour, and Greenwise Almond Flour, Hodgson Mills Unblanched Almond Flour, Simply Balanced, and King Arthur’s Almond Flour.
There is some controversy surrounding allergy issues and digestion issues with PUFAS or polyunsaturated fatty acids when using allot of nuts and nut milk. You may want to try some to see if gas, bloating or other symptoms occur. Using almond flour and meal as a part of your meal planning can add some valuable health benefits.
- banner photo shows Geneticist Craig Ledbetter examining the nuts of a self-pollinating almond selection in a California test plot. Photo by Peggy Greb. USDA Photo