What Are Green Almonds And When Are They In Season?

You've probably eaten your fair share of almonds in your life, but have you ever heard of green almonds? Well, it turns out these fuzzy little nuts are becoming quite popular. Once only found in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, green almonds are more widely consumed than ever before. Priscilla Martel reports that over 80% of the world's almonds are grown in California today, including green almonds, meaning your chances of finding them at your local farmer's market are now higher than ever. 

So what is a green almond? Put simply, a green almond is an immature almond that has been harvested early. They are easily distinguishable from standard almonds thanks to the nut's fuzzy green skin, present before it ripens, goes hard, and splits open to reveal the almond nut inside. What also makes it different is the almond seed contains a gelatinous center, giving the nut a gooey inside with a tart but fresh flavor. But these fresh green bites are only around for a short while.

When are green almonds in season?

Green almonds are generally ready to pick during early spring between the months of April and June. It's a short six- to eight-week time frame when the almond needs to be harvested. This is around two months earlier than your regular almond, which is ready to be picked at the start of August. It's very important to pick green almonds at the right time; too early and there isn't much almond to eat, too late and the hard outer shell has formed and you end up with a regular almond.

Interestingly, the almond's flavor profile changes during the six to eight weeks they're growing. At first acidic with a crunchy outside and soft inside, the almond gets slightly more bitter the longer it ripens as the hard shell begins to form. By the time June rolls around the jelly center is no more, replaced by an almond that lacks flavor.

How do you eat green almonds?

Like any other nut, you can chuck a handful of green almonds into your mouth and chow down to your heart's delight. This is the preferred method of consumption for Turkish locals who enjoy the fuzzy texture of the outside skin juxtaposed with the tart flavor of the actual nut inside. The other common way to eat green almonds is to cut into the shell and consume the seed inside. To do this you need to carefully cut along the edge of the shell and crack it open to reveal the almond seed. The seed tastes slightly acidic but also has an element of freshness thanks to the jelly center.

While eating them raw straight off an almond tree or from your local farmers market is common, green almonds can be eaten in a variety of tasty ways. Throw a little fancy olive oil and salt over them and you have the perfect snack while sipping an Italian vino, or slice and dice them and add them to a fresh salad for a burst of flavor. Just like regular almonds, these delightful green morsels can be sauteed, fried, poached, and even turned into almond milk, making them a great ingredient to have on hand through spring.