Almonds are a popular food that are found in the nut aisle of the grocery story. Interestingly, almonds aren’t actually true nuts, but are instead the shell and seed of an undeveloped fruit. Almonds are mostly eaten raw or toasted, but they are also available in many other forms. They are also commonly used to make almond spread (a substitute for peanut butter) and a milk substitute called almond milk. Continue reading if you want to find out where almonds come from.
Where do almonds come from?
Almonds are grown on the almond tree that was domesticated from the wild form many years ago. The tree can grow up to 10m (32.8 feet) high with a trunk of about 30cm (12 in) in diameter. The almond tree can begin to produce a worthwhile crop in about 3 years, but do not produce a full tree of fruit until 5-6 years. The fruit itself is green and has a thick leathery coat. Further inside there is a woody shell and inside this there is the edible almond. The trees grow best in warm, sunny and dry environments.
The almond tree is believed to be native to the Middle East through to the Indus river region in Asia. It was spread by humans throughout southern Europe and into parts of northern Africa. The wild form of the almond tree produces seeds (almonds) that contain glycoside amygdalin. This becomes hydrogen cyanide, a deadly poison, when the seed is crushed or chewed. It is believed that the domesticated almond has a genetic mutation to prevent glycoside amygdalin production.
Today, the United States has the largest production of almonds. The country produces over 1 million tonnes and most of these almonds are grown in California. In fact, almonds are the third largest agricultural product in the state! Spain is the second highest producer with approximately 280,000 tonnes.