Almonds originated in central Asia and their cultivation has been traced back to Biblical times. In ancient Egypt, almonds were left in King Tut’s tomb to keep him nourished in the afterlife. These crunchy goodies were brought over to the United States from Spain in 1700. Two hundred years later, the almond industry was booming in California.
Almonds are the seeds of a fruit tree that’s related to the rose family. They’re grown in California, Australia, the Mediterranean and South Africa. There are two main types of almonds: sweet and bitter. Sweet almonds have a delicate and slightly sweet flavor and are the variety that most folks eat. Bitter almonds contain a toxic chemical called hydrocyanic acid and can be lethal when eaten raw. The chemical is destroyed once it is heated and the almond is then safe to eat. Bitter almonds aren’t allowed to be sold in the United States, though processed bitter almonds are used in flavor extracts and liqueurs.