Almonds, variety and properties – Italian Cuisine – Italian Cuisine

Harvested between August and September, when they have reached full maturity, they are one of the main ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine. They fight wrinkles, are useful against cholesterol and also perform anticancer functions

They fight wrinkles, they are useful against cholesterol, they are suitable for pregnant women and are used to prevent osteoporosis: they are almonds. Perhaps the only real contraindication for this extraordinary seed is that we should not overdo it in consuming it. For the rest it is simply one of the most used ingredients in typical Mediterranean cuisines, brings a series of unsuspected benefits and above all is very good.

Fresh almonds
Fresh almonds.

Time to harvest the almonds

Despite being native to central Asia, almonds have perfectly adapted in Italy thanks to its temperate climate and are harvested during the period. between August and September when they have reached full maturity. The almond tree plant in fact, from the scientific name of Amygdalus Communis, it is characterized by three different qualities. There Sativa, which produces a sweet seed with a hard endocarp, represents most of the species cultivated because the seed is edible and is used in the kitchen both when it is still fresh and when it is dry for the preparation of numerous dishes, but also for the realization of one typical flour, and finally for the extraction of almond oil. A second quality is theAmara, which is characterized by its very bitter and inedible seed, if not following a difficult treatment (not recommended) due to the presence of amygdalin that develops hydrocyanic acid. A third variety, the fragilis, has a sweet seed and a fragile endocarp. If the qualities are limited to three types, the same cannot be said of the varieties for which there are over 20 based on the production, the flowering period, the percentage of double seeds (less useful from the commercial point of view), and the geographical origin. To simplify, we can say that most of the Italian national production is territorially linked to Puglia and to the Sicily but it is precisely a simplification.

The properties of almonds

Almonds have a high nutritional value thanks to the presence of protein, vitamins (especially B and E), fats and mineral salts such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and iron: in particular 55% fat, 25% protein and 20% sugar. And although there are still no exhaustive scientific studies on the benefits of almonds, it is believed that thanks to the presence of polyphenols, natural antioxidants, they are capable of slow aging especially fighting wrinkles. The presence of phytosterols and fibers helps against cholesterol. But, and is perhaps one of the lesser known features, almonds for the content of folic acid they are suitable for pregnant women. While for the richness of minerals they are effective against osteoporosis and thanks to a small amount of laetrile they also perform anticancer functions. Another characteristic not to be overlooked of almonds is that they do not contain gluten therefore they are particularly sought after in the preparation of food by those suffering from celiac disease.
Never, however, abuse almonds: being made up of fat and sugar, exaggerate can lead to accumulate a few extra pounds. In general it is not advisable to exceed 8-10 almonds a day.

Almond milk, flour and oil

Almond milk it is one of the most popular beverages among the Mediterranean countries. Thanks to the qualities of this seed, almond milk is one particularly energetic drink: it is a sort of sweet syrup that is obtained from almond paste, served lengthened with very fresh water.
Almond flour it is obtained from shelled and peeled almonds. Often the seeds are ground that cannot be easily marketed because they are broken in the harvest. However, the advantage of almond flour is that in the process of chopping and reducing into powder it does not lose its nutrient capacity and its energy values ​​so the flour has become a excellent ingredient for baked and confectionery products. Mixed with sugar, this flour allows you to prepare almond paste, which is used in particular to decorate or cover cakes, but it is also renowned for the preparation of a typical sweet like macaroons. Mandole flour with the addition of sugar and water is also the basis of marzipan, also known as royal pasta.
Almond oil: The properties of this fruit do not stop on the food side but continue on that too aesthetic. The oil extracted from this precious seed is in fact owned moisturizers and emollients therefore very useful for dry skin but also against stretch marks and finally thanks to the richness of vitamins it is considered essential to reinvigorate the hair especially those prematurely white or affected by dandruff.

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