7 Incredible Facts about Almonds that You’ve Ever Read

In this blog we’ll show you the characteristics of almonds, their main types, properties, history, main exporters and importers, how it is cultivated, and some products made from this fruit. Don’t miss it!  

What is an almond and what are its characteristics?    

Scientific namePrunus dulcis
Common nameAlmond
Place of originCentral Asia
HabitatHot and dry climates with cold seasons. Stony, deep and fertile soils.
DistributionAsia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and Latin America

Characteristics of the almond tree

Known as almond tree, it belongs to the family of Rosaceae. The almond tree (Prunus dulcis, formerly known as Amygdalus communis L.) is a plant species of the genus Prunus.  

It grows as a tree or shrub that loses its leaves every year. It is erect, has loose leaves, and reaches heights of 2 to 3 m or 8 to 11 m. Its bark is grayish-brown in color.

The trunk can have a diameter of up to 100 cm. The average life expectancy is about 70-80 years, but it can reach 150 years. The trunk of young trees has a pronounced ringed bark that cracks unevenly longitudinally with age. Young twig bark is bare, first green, then reddish; the previous year’s twig bark is brown, then grayish brown to grayish black. Branches spread vertically or horizontally with many short twigs. The brown, egg-shaped winter buds are 3 to 5 mm long and hairless.


The dark green, glossy leaves are arranged differently; they usually alternate on last year’s branches, and on short shoots, they are closer together and often concentrated in clusters. All leaves are divided and have stalks by which they are attached to the branches. These stems are ribbed and hairless, usually 1 to 2, rarely up to 3 cm long; they have 2 to 4 rounded nectar glands at their upper end. The leaf lamina is simple, sometimes unequal and 3 to 8, rarely up to 12 cm long and 1 to 3 cm wide, ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate and pointed to short at the upper end, also rounded. The base of the leaf blade is rounded. The margin of the leaf has a fine hollow with small teeth at the edge. The leaf surface initially has a light, smooth hairiness that later falls off.


The flowers, which open before the foliage unfolds, are single or in pairs. The flowering period is often from January through April. The stalk that joins the flower to the stem, hairless and very short, is initially 3 to 4 mm long and increases from 4 to 10 mm until the fruit is ripe. The radially symmetrical flowers have double petals and sit in a cup-shaped flower cup. This is hairless on the outside, rarely measuring 5 to 8 mm long and 3 to 5 mm thick. The 5 leaves surrounding the flower are entire, reddish-green, 5 to 6 mm long, ovate-lanceolate, pointed or blunt, hairless on the outside, and hairy on the edges. The 5 petals, white to pinkish in color, are 1.2 to 2 centimeters long and up to 1.7 centimeters wide. The flowers are about 3 to 5 cm in diameter.

Description of the fruit

Almond is the name of the seed that comes from this tree and is widely harvested for human consumption. They are also known as almond kernels and are used as food and in cosmetics.

The almond fruit consists of an outer shell and a hard shell that meets the seed, which is not a true nut. Almonds are sold in shell or shelled.

The firm, finely felted, gray, velvety shell, initially light green, then dark brown, leathery in texture, is flattened on the sides, unevenly ovate to narrowly ovate in shape, and measures 3 to 5 cm long and 2 to 3.5 cm in diameter. The thin, brownish, dry, fibrous, inedible flesh opens in the middle at the abdominal seam when the fruit is ripe. It has a beige, light brown, stony core with a woody, coarse, flattened on the sides and unevenly oval seed, 2.5 to 4 cm long and about 2 to 3 cm wide, weighs 3 to 5 grams, and is hard/crumbly. The shriveled seeds (almonds) have a thin, orange-brown seed coat and a cream-colored kernel; they are laterally flattened, ovate, partially pointed, about 1.8-2.5 cm long, and 1.1-1.3 cm wide and 7-10 mm thick and 0.8-1.4 grams in weight; they have a sweet or bitter taste. The fruits ripen from July to August.

Types of almonds

Almonds are mainly divided into 3 groups: sweet almonds, soft-shelled almonds, and bitter almonds.

Sweet almonds are particularly popular in the run-up to Christmas. But they are also a healthy and absolutely versatile snack. They are very nutritious and tasty. Although their fat content is relatively high at 53%, most of it is in the form of unsaturated fatty acids. Among other things, these promote cell division, have an anti-inflammatory effect, serve as hormone precursors, and have a positive effect on total cholesterol.

Sweet almonds are available in almost all variations: raw, toasted, roasted, salted, sweetened, dark-skinned or unskinned, peeled or split with an easy-to-crack outer shell, chopped, sliced, grated, ground or as flour. Formerly they were called sweet amygdalae.

In addition to the delicious sweet almond, there is also the bitter almond, which is not suitable for human consumption when raw. However, it is processed into bitter almond oil and used for baking, for example.

Bitter almonds are used for the special flavor in the production of the Christmas dish stollen. The essential oil for baking with bitter almond flavor tastes only of almonds and contains aromatic substances, but without hydrocyanic acid, which is the substance that makes these almonds toxic.

The fruits of the sweet and bitter varieties have the same appearance. The seeds are enclosed by a woody shell which is covered by two more layers: an initially leathery and firm textured layer that becomes dry and brittle as it ripens, and the velvety, hairy outer layer.

The soft-shelled Dürkheimer almond is a variety that bears large fruits and is soft-skinned, which allows opening them by hand. They ripen from the end of September to mid-October.

The kernels have grayish-brown skin and taste spicy and sweet. The plant develops a flat but spreading crown. It flowers early and bears highly decorative white flowers with a red eye from mid-January to mid-April. This almond is self-fertile.

There are 32 types or varieties of almonds in general, which are:

  • Geisenheim varieties
  • Wine Road Pearl
  • Ai
  • Ferraduel
  • Ferragnes
  • Ferraster
  • Lauranne
  • Marcona
  • Texas
  • Nonpareil
  • N° 49
  • Peerless
  • Draco
  • Mission
  • Jorlando
  • Mollar
  • Fita
  • Valencia
  • Jordana
  • Largueta
  • Mallorca
  • Planeta
  • Esperanza
  • Short
  • Palma Girgenti
  • Avola Sceta
  • Prima Bari
  • Pharaoh
  • Hard
  • Fainting
  • Fournat de Brezenaut
  • Prolific Texas

Today we focus on the first 6 as they are the main ones.

Geisenheim varieties

These varieties were collected by Maurer from the Dürkheim area after World War II in Geisenheim and given to breeding schools, they are very fertile. They are divided into:

  • Dürkheim giant almond
  • Durkheimer huge
  • Ungstein 2 east – Bad Dürkheim
  • Ungstein 3 east – Bad Dürkheim
  • Bad Dürkheim 11
  • Wachenheimer Basel

Pearl of the Wine Route

Most likely a blend of almond and peach, it has small, late canopies and pink flowers; little threatened by late frosts; medium-sized fruit; stone with several wrinkles, very hard; the flavor of its center varies greatly (depending on climate and maturity) sweet and bitter centers are produced; ripens mid to late October; needs pollinators to grow.

Wine Route Varieties

  • Princess almond: medium-strong to strong growth, small fruit, and white flowers.
  • Wedge almond: weak to medium-heavy growth, delicate and extensive pink flowers.
  • Small, full-seeded sweet almond: strong, upright growth, pink flowers.
  • Almond #10: Selected by Dr. Schwarz. It has large, pink flowers, moderate growth, and grows to spread. It is strongly susceptible to Moniliasis disease and has a peach-like kernel. It is deeply ridged, very hard, with significantly higher amygdalin content, therefore, not suitable for consumption, has large kernels, but very small seeds.
  • Palatina: It is new in the fruit almond range, and has high yields and large fruits.


It comes from France (Rhone Valley, Provence); late flowering emerging in mid-March; matures in mid-September; Pollinators: Texas, Ferragnes varieties. It has good growth and very high yield.


It has a very late flowering, 1 to 5 days after the Ai variety; ripens at the end of September. Its pollinators are the Ai and Ferragnes varieties; medium growth, very good yield, very fertile; large fruit, oval, hard skin, wide heart, very good quality and very resistant to frost.


It comes from France (Bordeaux). It has a very late flowering, 1 to 8 days after Ai; ripens at the end of September; Pollinators: Ai, Ferraduel. It has very good growth and very high yield; large, smooth-skinned fruit- Thick kernel and good quality.


Brought from France (Bordeaux); blooms very late, 7 days after Ai, matures in mid-September; Pollinators: Ferragnes, Ferralise. It has strong growth and good yield, as well as a large fruit and thick kernel.

Properties and benefits of almonds

Almond nutritional profile

We invite you to see the nutritional table of the almond per 100g, taken from Vegaffinity.

CompositionQuantity (gr)CDR(%)
MineralsQuantity (mg)CDR(%)
VitaminsQuantity (mg)CDR(%)
Vitamin A00%
Vitamin B10.2117.5%
Vitamin B20.7860%
Vitamin B35.30%
Vitamin B1200%
Vitamin C00%

5 properties of almonds that you have to take advantage of

They are full of nutrients

In a small hand (28 grams) there are 6 grams of high-quality protein, almost 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 14 grams of fat. Most of the fatty acids are healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Almonds are also a great source of fiber, vitamin E, vitamin B2, magnesium, and manganese.

However, hypersensitive people to salicylic acid do not tolerate almond kernels because these kernels contain more of this natural preservative than any other type of nut.

One serving of these crunchy kernels provides about 162 kilocalories. It is known from earlier studies that the energy contained in their kernels can only be partially utilized by the body. It is said that the reason for this is the fiber content or the stability of the cell walls of the almonds, which encapsulate the nutrients and make them more difficult to absorb. For this reason, the body doesn’t even use 10 to 15 percent of these calories.

Strengthen the immune system

Vitamin E is the collective term for eight different substances from the group of tocopherols and tocotrienols. These substances act as antioxidants in the body. In many metabolic processes, potentially harmful free radicals are formed, which can be rendered harmless by these antioxidants.

In this way, vitamin E protects the valuable unsaturated fatty acids found in the cells. Its protective effect extends from the immune and nervous systems to the muscles and retina of the eyes. There is also evidence that vitamin E has a protective effect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and arthritis.

Nuts such as almonds are an excellent source of beneficial free radical eliminators. A single handful provides more than 35% of your daily vitamin E requirement.

Good for metabolism

Anyone who eats almonds and other nuts regularly have no need to worry about their magnesium intake, as these crunchy kernels are an excellent source of this important mineral. 23 grams of almonds provide 20% of the daily requirement of this nutrient.

Magnesium is found in all tissues and fluids of the body. It plays an essential role in the transmission of stimuli between nerves and muscles. Magnesium is also essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.

Keeps your skin young

There are numerous antioxidants found in the brown shell of almonds, which can protect the body from the effects of premature aging and some types of cancer. In addition to the aforementioned vitamin E, it is the polyphenol group that makes a decisive contribution to health.

In order that almonds not to lose their polyphenols, they should be eaten unpeeled and raw (as long as they are sweet, because if they are bitter, they are toxic when uncooked). Blanched almonds still provide healthy fatty acids, but far fewer antioxidants. One study compared the antioxidant effects of blanched almonds with roasted almonds. The scientists found that the roasting process increased the antioxidant effect.

So, if you’d rather use dark almond butter than fresh almonds, you can do so without conscience remorse, just keep track of the calories, because even if almonds are healthy, excessive consumption is bad for your waistline in the long run.

Reduce appetite

Thanks to their high protein and fiber content, almonds can curb appetite; so concluded a Purdue University study. The participants ate almonds as a snack between meals and then they analyzed the number of calories they consumed.

Instead of gaining weight from the extra fat serving, the participants kept the almond calories consumed during the main meals automatically. The reason: they ate smaller portions as they were overwhelmed by the snack.

Almonds are therefore a good snack and can prevent food cravings. A small handful is enough and will help you get through the next few hours without eating.

History and origin of almonds

Almonds are among the oldest cultivated plants. However, their origin is lost in the mists of past times. They were probably first grown in tropical China. From where they traveled westward with traders thousands of years ago.

Almonds are mentioned in the Bible as an ingredient in bread for the Egyptian pharaohs. According to a legend, the Greeks created the almond tree from a drop of blood of the goddess Cybele. From Arabs and Romans to Charlemagne: they all contributed to the expansion of the almond tree throughout northern Europe. And under Spanish Franciscan monks, the almond tree eventually made its way to California in the New World.

The almond has also left its stamp on the religious and cultural history of Europe. Until the Romanesque era, Christ was depicted as ruler of the world with a mandorla, an almond-shaped halo. The almond also served as a symbol of the Immaculate Conception: “Christ was begotten in Mary, as the tonsil is formed in the almond and remains unharmed”. This is how Konrad von Würzburg described the conception in the 13th century.

Global almond industry

Get to know the main exporters and importers of almonds in the world.  

Top almond exporters in the world in 2020

In the following chart, you can see the top 10 countries that exported the most almonds by 2020 according to FAO.

On the other hand, FAO also provides information on which countries have the highest monetary volume in exports, specifically in U.S. dollars in 2020. Let’s see which they are:

Top almond importers in the world in 2020

In 2020, $5.55 billion worth of almonds were imported around the world. The top almond importers according to FAO for this year are those you see in the graph below.

How are almonds cultivated?

There are a variety of requirements that must be taken into account to grow these nuts. Below, we show you which they are:


It prefers permeable soils that are rich in humus and nutrients, loamy, sandy, with a little calcium, and that retains moisture well. Its pH should range from neutral to slightly acidic.


The almond tree thrives best in a Mediterranean climate with warm, long, dry summers and mild, short, wet winters with short frosts. The optimum temperature is between 15 and 30 °C. It tolerates short, light spring frosts, but not waterlogging.

Almond planting method

Almonds are generally quite demanding to care for and need a lot of attention. One of the reasons is that they are endangered by late frosts: if temperatures drop below -1 degree Celsius, the fruits may die.

When do almond blooms grow?

Almonds look as good as they taste when they are in bloom. In California and southern Europe, almond trees begin to bloom in late February, while in Germany you have to wait until March or April. After the flowering period, which usually (unfortunately) lasts just under a week, the leaves develop.

The Palatinate Almond Weeks are perfect for enjoying the almond blossom: countless almond trees line up along almost 80 kilometers. This signals the arrival of spring.

Almond tree

No wonder people on Google keep asking “how do I plant an almond tree?” Almond trees are a feast for the eyes and provide us with delicious and healthy nuts, so why not try it on an almond tree?

However, there are a few things to keep in mind. Growing an almond tree is not that easy:

Therefore, it is important to know the right time first: almond trees are to be planted in late summer or spring (only when the ground is frost-free!), as the likelihood of long dry, and warm periods is lower at these times of the year.

The location plays a significant role as well. The almond tree should be protected and receive sufficient sun. Soil conditions for ideal growth are warm, well-drained, and with calcium. Dry soils are not suitable for this crop.

To grow a “healthy” almond tree a core is required, which is packed in a container with soil about 2 cm deep in the ground. Watering on a regular basis is particularly important for young plants.

However, it may happen that even with all your love and care, the project of one’s own almond tree fails, which is mainly due to the fact that almond trees are quite demanding plants.

However, if you do everything right and have the necessary luck, you’ll enjoy your own almond tree!

Harvesting almond

Half a year after the almond trees have begun to flower the fruits are ready to be harvested: between July and October, depending on the location. During this time the stone fruits emerge, containing the almond seed: spongy, yellowish, and oval.

When harvesting these fruits it must be remembered that some almonds are likely to have fallen to the ground due to the winds passing around the tree. For this reason, it is good to check on the ground near the tree to pick up the fallen almonds before starting to remove them from the tree.

At harvest time, it is good to carry an object to transport the almonds such as an old sheet to wrap around the almond tree. More experienced growers and farmers usually use special tarpaulins or blankets to collect them, as well as olives and other foodstuffs.

For this task, it is also handy to rely on elements such as canes or large sticks to shake the branches of the almond tree. This is done so that the almonds fall into the blanket and thus it is less difficult to load them.

Once all the almonds have been harvested, it is time to separate the fruit from the shell. This process is quite difficult and for a long time, it has been done using a machine designed for this task. But there is no need to worry, if you do not have a flaking machine, you can peel the almonds manually with a knife and some patience.

Almond post-harvest

Almonds can go bad quickly if stored incorrectly. Storing almonds unshelled is a good idea to prolong their shelf life.

If they are stored correctly, unpeeled almond kernels can be preserved for up to 36 months. Also, shelled almonds, if kept protected from light, fresh and vacuum-packed, can be stored for about 3 years. Sachets of opened, ground almonds will last for about 3 months, as long as they are kept under optimal storage conditions. Roasted almonds are especially popular at Christmas. However, processing roasted almonds can lead to faster spoilage so be sure to inspect roasted almonds for signs of spoilage.

When are almonds bad?

Almonds and other nuts are particularly susceptible to mold if not stored properly. If you discover mold or black discoloration on almonds, discontinue eating them. This also applies to any type of pest infestation. Also check how the almonds smell: almonds in poor condition can be identified by a musty or rancid odor. They also have a bitter taste. You can recognize an almond fit for consumption by its typical light brown skin, almost white interior and characteristic sweet taste.

What is the best way to store almonds?

Regardless of the type of almond, whole almond kernels must always be stored in a dark, dry, and cool place. Unlike almonds that have already been ground, whole almond kernels need to be stored in a place that is permeable to air. If the almonds are already ground, sliced, or otherwise chopped, check the expiration date on the bag. The best-before date is an indicator of the shelf life of the almonds. In most cases, however, you can still eat the almonds in the following months. However, be sure to examine and smell almonds after their best-before date for signs of spoilage, such as a rancid odor or black spots.

Uses and products made from almonds

Almonds are very commonly consumed as a type of snack or as an accompaniment to certain recipes, so, the most normal thing is that people consume them as such; however, there are other types of industrial products made from this nut, which is why it can be said that it is used processed. Also, certain products made from almonds have been launched to the market such as the ones we show you next.

Industrial products made from almonds

Almond oil

Almond oil is understood as the fatty, thin, odorless vegetable oil found in both sweet and bitter almonds. The essential almond oil, which can only be obtained from bitter almonds, is always referred to in the trade as bitter almond oil.

Almond flour

Almond flour is a gluten-free, low-carbohydrate flour. During the processing of almond oil, a by-product is produced, the so-called press cake from which (partially) de-oiled almond flour is obtained. In addition to this almond flour, there is also almond flour without any oil, in the production of which the almond kernels are processed directly. Almond flour is often used as a substitute for wheat flour and in many low-carbohydrate recipes.

Almond butter

Almond butter is made exclusively from pressed almonds and contains all the almond oil as well as all the fiber and protein of the almond. To obtain it, a meat grinder is used for cold pressing and then the result is blended to achieve a creamier final product. There are two types of almond butter. Brown almond butter consists of roasted almonds in a shell, white almond butter consists only of blanched almonds. Almond butter is increasingly being used in vegan diets to replace dairy products.

Almond milk

Almond milk is a herbal drink made from herbs, almonds (the seeds of the almond tree) and water. Almond milk is also used in a number of cosmetic products. Since milk products in the European Union cannot be marketed under the designation milk, almond milk products are also referred to commercially as “almond drinks”.  In Italy, on the other hand, almond milk as latte di mandorla has a centuries-old tradition.


This product is a candy that is made with sugar, almonds, and egg. The amount of these ingredients change according to the recipe. In countries like Spain, it is considered a typical Christmas dessert, however, in Toledo, where it was first mentioned in 1512, it is eaten all year round.

Bread dessert
By Tamorlan – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7570124


Almonds are very important given their wide consumption due to their many benefits, which include reducing your appetite and the variety of utilities they have. We hope that this blog has helped you learn more about almonds and that you don’t hesitate to consume them in all their presentations to enjoy their benefits firsthand.