Green Almond Harvest Kicks Off Stone Fruit Season

Green Almond Harvest Kicks Off Stone Fruit Season

For many people, apricots in the market are the sign that stone fruit season is officially open. Little did we know here in the United States that the true harbinger of stone fruit season is the green almond. Yes, you heard correctly – almonds, which are not actually nuts, are the first stone fruit we harvest. And leave it to Chef Mario to demystify this seasonal treat and add it to our tables.

So, what is a green almond?

A green almond is the fuzzy green fruit that has a very short, two-week window in April-May. Bite into one and you’ll experience a jelly-like interior that is the fruit in its early stage. 

If we leave green almonds on the tree, they eventually dry out and the green, fuzzy skin turns brown and cracks open. The jelly-like inside had dried and turned brown, and that dried brown fruit is what you’re accustomed to finding in bags at the grocery store. 

An ancient snack

Almonds are among the most ancient trees to be cultivated – sources have traced early almond trees to the Middle East in 3000-2000 B.C. Over the centuries, almond cultivation spread across Africa, Europe and the United States. Today, almonds are one of California’s top 10 agricultural exports. But green almonds are just starting to catch on here. 

“Green almonds are popular in Mediterranean countries where there is a long food history,” Chef Mario says. “In ancient times, people had to survive, so they would eat every vegetable or fruit at every possible stage of growth.”

How to eat green almonds

Green almonds are available for about two weeks in early spring, so don’t delay! They have a delightfully green, sour flavor and can be enjoyed very simply, or added to more elaborate meals. 

Here are a few ways to enjoy green almonds:

  • On the simple side, Chef Mario loves to serve them, fuzzy skin and all, with a little Star Dust Dipping Powder. The saltiness of the seasoning tempers the green almond’s sour flavor and brings out its cucumber notes, he says.
  • Some people are put off by green almonds’ fuzzy skin. To get around that, Chef Mario suggests finely slicing green almonds and adding them to salads. When you finely slice them, you minimize the fuzzy skin. Try finely sliced green almonds with celery, fennel and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. 
  • Add a pile of green almonds to a charcuterie board. “With their sour flavor, they are a perfect foil for rich, salty meats,” Chef Mario says. 
  • Pair green almonds with mulberries for a deliciously complex, sweet/sour treat!
  • In Italy, people pair green almonds with ricotta cheese, Chef Mario says. During the window of time that green almonds are available, cows have been feeding on plentiful green grass brought by winter rains, which makes their milk rich and flavorful. The ricotta’s rich, early-spring flavor pairs beautifully with green almonds, a drizzle of olive oil and salt. 

For Chef Mario, green almonds are pure spring – green and sour to shake off the winter chill. Try them this season and discover the flavors that people have been coveting for thousands of years!

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