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Exploring Almonds: History and 8 Imaginative Recipes


Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Almonds are great for snacking, cooking, and baking

Almonds are great for snacking, cooking, and baking

How Almonds Moved From East to West

The migration began as early as the year 334 B.C. when Alexander III of Macedon and his army of 35,000 crossed the Dardanelles. (If you don't recognize his name, perhaps you know the gentleman as Alexander the Great).

Caravans began at Xi’an road, moving west along the Great Wall of China. Traversing the Pamir mountains they crossed present-day Afghanistan, and continued to the Levant and then to the Mediterranean Sea.

This is the story of the Silk Road, not a single highway but rather many east-west thoroughfares. Along the way, the travelers ate the fruits of the land and some stowed seeds in their pockets and packs. One of those seeds was the almond. And so the almond was spread from its native land in Asia, across the plains, and into Europe where it flourished in the climates of Italy and Spain.

Blossoms on an ancient almond tree

Blossoms on an ancient almond tree

In the 18th century, Franciscan monks from Spain established missions in California. That they might be self-sufficient, the monks introduced a wide variety of European fruits to the area, planting citrus, apples, peaches, grapes, figs, and (of course) almonds.

Monks, Bees, and Almonds in the 21st Century

Today a different community of monks tends to the almond trees of Central California. The monks of St. John Monastery in Manton, California (of the Orthodox Church of America), are beekeepers. In mid-summer blackberries and thistles provide nectar for the bees; in August and September, the sap of the incense cedar keeps the colony happy. In the winter months, they are fed sugar water and protein patties to renew their strength.

But in early spring the monks transport their 50 hives, each weighing 100 pounds, to the almond orchards. Almond growers rent the use of the hives. As a result, the trees are pollinated, the bees are fed, and the brothers of the monastery have a source of income. It's a win-win-win.

Almond Production in the United States

One million acres of land in the California Central Valley are devoted exclusively to the production and harvest of six almond varieties. The pollination of the trees is itself a massive undertaking; 1.4 million hives are trucked to the almond fields. The decline of bee populations is severely imperiling the almond industry and in response, researchers are in the process of developing self-pollinating trees.

There is another, even more dire problem affecting the sustainability of the almond industry in California. The 21st century has been a period of persistent drought. Almonds require an extreme amount of water; it is estimated that a single almond requires 1.1 gallons of water.

World Almond Production in Tonnes, 2018

Source: FAOSTAT (Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Data Base) of the United Nations

CountryTonnes Produced (in the shell)

United States















  • The almond is a member of the rose family and a close relative of the plum and the peach.
  • California is the largest producer of almonds in the world.
  • The Romans tossed almonds at newlyweds (instead of rice) as a fertility charm.
  • Some believe that eating almonds before imbibing will prevent hangovers.
  • Almonds are one of only two nuts mentioned in the Bible (the other is the pistachio).
  • Almonds have a long shelf life because they are low in polyunsaturated fats.
  • Chocolate manufacturers use 40 percent of the world’s almonds.
  • A mix of almonds and dried sardines is a popular snack in Japan.
  • It takes 1,000 pounds of almonds to make 1 pint of almond oil.

8 Sweet and Savory Recipes

Almond and Lemon Crusted Fish

Almond Crusted Chicken Bites

Almond Ricotta Cake

Almond Shortbread Bars

Easy Cinnamon Candied Almonds

Garlic Rosemary Meatballs

Homemade Almond Pasta

Spicy Parmesan Ranch Almonds

Almond and lemon crusted fish

Almond and lemon crusted fish

1. Almond and Lemon Crusted Fish

Fish need not be deep-fried and served with a side of chips. This almond and lemon crusted fish is oven-baked, making it a healthy and colorful alternative. The cooks at Eating Well suggest cod or halibut, but any mild white fish would work (I'm thinking tilapia).

Some reviewers commented that the amounts of dill and lemon were too much, and I agree. Omit the dill, use half of the lemon, and note that the recipe calls for kosher salt. If you are using table salt, you will want to use just 1/2 teaspoon.

Almond crusted chicken bites

Almond crusted chicken bites

2. Almond Crusted Chicken Bites

Chicken nuggets are a favorite of kids and adults alike, but unfortunately, they are also one of the most heavily processed foods we put on our plates. They are so very tasty but so unhealthy. But you can make your own, like these almond crusted chicken bites. They are made from bite-sized cuts of real boneless chicken, not minced meat and fat mixed with starches. Taylor coats them with one of my favorite snacks, smokehouse almonds. If you cannot find smokehouse (smoked) almonds at your grocery store, any lightly salted almond will do; simply add a teaspoon of smoked paprika to the coating.

These are oven-baked, not fried, so they're healthy, crunchy, and guilt-free.

Almond ricotta cake

Almond ricotta cake

3. Almond Ricotta Cake

This almond ricotta cake would be the perfect end-note for a traditional Italian-themed dinner. Ricotta makes the cake moist and tender. There's a triple-punch of almond flavor with finely chopped almonds and almond extract in the cake, and slivered almonds on top. Be sure to cream the eggs/ricotta mixture thoroughly in insure that the cake batter is light and fluffy.

Almond shortbread bars

Almond shortbread bars

4. Almond Shortbread Bars

I am not a great fan of sweets unless the sweet happens to be shortbread; I'm a sucker for that buttery crust. This recipe makes a generous 9x13-inch pan of blondies and features almonds in every bite. If you are feeling a tad ambitious (or smug about your culinary superpowers) follow the link to Sue's recipe for making your own almond paste.

Easy cinnamon candied almonds

Easy cinnamon candied almonds

5. Easy Cinnamon Candied Almonds

Almonds can be a nutritious snack, and these cinnamon candied nuts take only 10 minutes of cooking time. They would make wonderful gifts at Christmastime.

Garlic rosemary meatballs

Garlic rosemary meatballs

6. Garlic Rosemary Meatballs

These garlic rosemary meatballs will fit just about any diet plan—they're Whole 30, Paleo, gluten-free, grain-free, Keto, low-carb, and dairy-free. Most meatball recipes include bread crumbs as a binder and to prevent the meatballs from being too dense. Nicole uses almond meal (finely ground almonds). They bake in the oven with whole garlic cloves and sprigs of fresh rosemary. Your house will smell wonderful. Just add a side salad or vegetables for a complete meal.

Homemade almond pasta

Homemade almond pasta

7. Homemade Almond Pasta

I have a membership to one of those warehouse retail stores. I'm frugal to a fault and love a good bargain. I'm luckier than most—we have a large freezer and a walk-in pantry, so I'm blessed to be able to take advantage of bulk food purchases.

After a recent trip to the "unnamed" warehouse, I came home with a massive bag of sliced almonds. I made green beans almondine, I baked cakes and cookies, I breaded chicken, and there were still almonds to spare. What to do?

I donned my thinking cap and came up with this recipe for homemade almond pasta. A word of caution (or restraint)—don't drown these nutty noodles in red sauce. Doing so covers over their wonderful flavor. I would suggest just a simple browned butter, or a fruity extra-virgin olive oil to allow the flavor of the almonds to shine through.

Spicy Parmesan ranch almonds

Spicy Parmesan ranch almonds

8. Spicy Parmesan Ranch Almonds

I presented a recipe for cinnamon-sugar almonds for those of you with a sweet tooth, but I prefer a salty savory snack. These spicy Parmesan ranch almonds are so very easy; simply roast them in a slow oven. The hardest part is waiting for them to cool before you eat them.


© 2021 Linda Lum


Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 04, 2021:

Thank you Rosina for your kind words. As I mentioned to Flourish in response to her comments, if you make the almond pasta, don't bury it under traditional spaghetti (red tomato) sauce. Find a good quality olive oil and perhaps some fresh basil--that is enough.

Rosina S Khan on July 04, 2021:

Delicious, mouth-watering recipes, Linda. We have plenty of almonds in stock at home because my sister who lives in the US has recently been here and gifted them to us bountifully. I would like to try Homemade Almond Pasta. I liked the interesting history of almonds as well. All in all, a helpful and spellbinding article!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 01, 2021:

I don't know about coconut (and don't want to chance it). We don't have hemp unless you go to a really pricey store. Oat would work (and it's our flour of choice), but also out here hugely expensive.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on July 01, 2021:

I don't care for rice milk either. When I first found out about my dairy allergy, I had a choice of either rice or soy milk. Rice milk is thin and watery and soy gives me a migraine, so I was thankful when the other milks came on the market. There is a big variety now. Has he tried any of them like coconut, oat, hemp or any of the several others I can't think of right now? Personally I don't like coconut or oat milk, but I haven't tried hemp.

BTW is coconut considered a tree nut?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 30, 2021:

MizB it's always a good day when I hear from you. I'm glad you've found a plant-based milk that you like. My Godson is allergic to tree nuts, and his little brother can't do fairy, do it's rice milk around here (...I'm not a fan.)

Ok, you've convinced me--you and a hundred others, that I need to expound on the health benefits of almonds. There WILL be an update.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 30, 2021:

Linda, I’m a historian at heart, so I loved your history lesson. However, I do think that calling Alexander the Great a gentleman is stretching history just a bit, don’tcha think? LOL

Seriously, the almond definitely has its place in my house, especially almond flour and almond milk. I’ve found a store brand of almond milk that tastes just like real cow juice (Simple Truth Original), and I’m addicted to it. I really want to try the candied almond recipe (The meatballs are next). I make candied pecans for my granddaughter every Christmas, and I think she and I both will love them. I have to thank a coworker friend for introducing me to the health benefits of almonds. I’m glad this article showed up in my feed.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 30, 2021:

Shauna, that frittata sounds great (my favorite foods). Make enough for two and I'll be right over.

You and others have left so many great comments full of information on the health benefits of almonds--I think there's enough for an Almonds Part 2. At the very least, I need to write one more section.

The almond pasta has such a unique flavor, I wouldn't bury it under a red pasta sauce. I drizzled on a really good quality olive oil, some fresh basil, and a dusting of pecorino romano. Since it's so hot, I'm thinking if I prepared it today, I'd serve it cold (or room temperature) with a drizzle of olive oil and some smoked salmon on top. Maybe some Kalamata olives and capers.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 30, 2021:

Linda, thanks for the wonderfully written history of the wonderful almond. Very enlightening!

I always have raw, unsalted almonds on hand. They're a natural, effective panacea for heartburn. Just five or six almonds will do the trick with nearly immediate results.

These recipes all look so good, especially your almond noodle recipe. However, I don't have a pasta machine, nor the patience (and elbow grease) to make the dough. I'd love to taste it, though. What did you top/serve them with?

You've made me hungry - again, Sis! Time to heat up my asparagus, Gruyere frittata! Maybe I'll follow it with some almonds for good measure.


Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 29, 2021:

Thank you kiwi berry. I think this is the first time you have left a comment on one of my articles. If you are new to Hubs Pages, welcome!

kiwi berry on June 29, 2021:

Hi. This is an interesting article good job.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 29, 2021:

Denise, I'm so glad you were able to find this article. Your experience with those pesky squirrels sounds very much like my life here, but it's hazelnuts (filberts) in place of the almonds.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on June 29, 2021:

Living in the great Central Valley of California, I am surrounded by almonds. In early February, they are the first signs of spring, blooming everywhere. Many people have them in their yards as well as in orchards. The smaller almonds are used for feed for the cows (unhulled). I have a broccoli madness recipe that calls for slivered almonds and hemp hearts, yum. At one point, we lived out in the country near open fields of cows where there were plenty of ground squirrels. They would run up into the yard and strip the almonds off the trees even before they were ripe. That was annoying. Thanks for the history lesson.



Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 29, 2021:

And you did it again too, Audrey. You brightened my day. Take care and stay cool.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on June 28, 2021:

Oh, yummy! Your recipe for Lemon Crusted Fish sound so delicious. I'll be using it for a special dinner when my niece comes to visit next week. I love the information on almonds too. You did it again, Linda. Thanks.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 28, 2021:

I love tilapia but haven't had it in several years. Rutabaga is highly overrated

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 28, 2021:

My daughter needed that fish recipe tonight. Her heart is in the right place but she tries odd recipes and tonight it was tilapia tacos and a side dish of rudabagas. Never had either.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 28, 2021:

Roslin, I had not heard of using almonds to quell one's appetite. They are very nutritious, so perhaps they leave you feeling full? Perhaps I should add those to my daily diet. Thank you for commenting.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 28, 2021:

Adrienne, I too love the aroma of almonds; it reminds me of cherries. Thank you for letting me know about the missing link. I have corrected that part of the article.

Adrienne Farricelli on June 28, 2021:

My grandma used to make candied almonds and I still remember the smell of the kitchen on those days. Thanks for sharing all these delightful almond-based recipes!

Adrienne Farricelli on June 28, 2021:

Almonds are very popular at my home. We use almond flour to make pancakes, waffles and muffins. I love all desserts made with almonds. The almond ricotta cake you posted sounds delicious. The almond shortbread is something I would love to try too, but I don't see the link for that recipe though.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 28, 2021:

Chitrangada, you have made my day. What a lovely comment. Thank you for your kind words. Perhaps I should insert a paragraph on the health benefits of almonds as you and several others have mentioned that.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 28, 2021:

Excellent information about almonds, it’s history, and how it reached from east to west. An interesting read indeed.

Almonds are regular in my home, all due to it’s multiple health benefits. We soak them in water for sometime, before eating it.

Indian desserts and sweets are incomplete without almonds.

Thanks for sharing the interesting almond recipes too. As always, an article full of information and very well researched and presented.

Have a great week ahead. Thank you.

Rozlin from UAE on June 27, 2021:

Hi, Linda. This is a very interesting and informative article on almonds. I love almonds too. I used to soak 3 to 4 almonds overnight, and peel it in the morning, have it on empty stomach. This helps weight loss. Almonds are packed with lots of nutrition. They are beneficial to growing children. I enjoyed reading the history of almonds, learnt a lot from your hub. Thanks for sharing.

Stay safe and happy.

Blessings and Much Love!!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 27, 2021:

Dora, I am so sorry to hear that you are in lockdown. I pray for the day this is no more than a vague memory. I appreciate your kind words and support.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 27, 2021:

EK, I am so happy to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words.

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on June 27, 2021:

I always feel satisfied after reading your hubs. I have learned first time that how almonds moved from east to west. Thanks for sharing about Almonds.

Stay safe and healthy...

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 27, 2021:

Linda, thanks for the very interesting facts about almonds. As for the recipes, they all look so good. My country is on lockdown because of a Covid breakout. It's a good time to experiment with Almond and Lemon-Crusted Fish and Almond Shortbread Bars, among others. Thank you.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on June 27, 2021:

Oh, Stay safe and keep yourself hydrated. Many Blessings to you, dear friend

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 27, 2021:

Dear Misbah, I am always happy to receive your comments. Yes, almonds are very much present in the Middle Eastern diet--a definite health food.

Thank you for your kind words. Tomorrow will be a very challenging day; our temperature is forecast to reach 111 degrees F (44 C) which is record breaking. I will NOT venture outside.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on June 27, 2021:

Linda, This article on almonds is very interesting. All of the recipes are delicious, and the history is fascinating. I enjoyed reading your article and learned a lot from it. Eating Almonds are said to be very beneficial for memory and mental health . Many school going children in Pakistan eat almonds with honey on an empty stomach. I love eating almonds. Thank you so much for sharing. Stay safe and healthy!

Many Blessings to you, dear friend

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 27, 2021:

Oh my Bill. If they used half that energy to do something good, think of what could be accomplished.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 27, 2021:

Driving back from Oregon a couple years ago, I learned all about the almond industry on NPR. I was fascinated to learn about the relationship between bees and almond trees. Evidently the theft of beehives is a billion dollar crime industry in California. All news to me, and fascinating for sure. Leave it to the criminals to make money off of nature.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 27, 2021:

Thank you Rawan. Appreciated.

Rawan Osama from Egypt on June 27, 2021:

Well written thanks for sharing

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 27, 2021:

Thank you so much Peggy. I hope you are finding a way to stay cool. The forecast for my corner of the world is 111 tomorrow.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 27, 2021:

Pamela, I am sorry to hear about your allergy. I understand; my Godson is highly allergic to all tree nuts and peanuts.

I'm quite certain you could substitute any other nut of your liking for almond nds in the cooking recipes. Please write to me if you would like some help in adjusting recipes.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 27, 2021:

Manatita, it is so good to hear from you. Yes, almonds are quite nutritious. I'm glad you can include them in your diet.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 27, 2021:

That is an interesting history of how almonds were spread around the world. Those are also some good-sounding recipes. Thanks!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 27, 2021:

The history of almonds is fascinating. I would have never thought of eating almonds and dried sardines. This is such an interesting article, Linda.

Unfortunately, I am very allergic to almonds, so maybe I could substitute som other type of nut for these delicious recipe.

I had an allergy test decades ago where they do tiny injections up and down your arms and I had more swelling from almonds than anything else, unfortunately. So, Linda, I do appreciate learning more about almonds even if I can't eat them.

Have a wonderful week!

manatita44 from london on June 27, 2021:

Some useful facts about the almond and its use in puddings/desserts. It is one of the few nuts that I tolerate well and I believe that it is rich in proteins. I use the milk regularly. There's now an activated almond and coconut milk also. Very nutritious. Peace.

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