Wikipedia Article About Almond on Wikipedia
The Almond (Prunus dulcis, syn. Prunus amygdalus, or Amygdalus communis) is a small deciduous tree belonging to the subfamily Prunoideae of the family Rosaceae. An almond is also the fruit of this tree. It is classified with the peach in the subgenus Amygdalus within Prunus, distinguished from the other subgenera by the corrugated seed shell.
The fruit is an oval, tan-colored nut. It lacks the sweet fleshy outer covering of other members of Prunus (such as the plum and cherry), this being replaced by a leathery coat, called a hull, which contains the edible kernel, commonly called a nut, inside a hard shell. In botanical parlance, the reticulated hard stony shell is called an endocarp, and the fruit, or exocarp, is a drupe, having a downy outer coat.
Types of almond
Almonds are available as either a bitter or as a sweet flavored type of nut. There are a variety of almonds available in both different types and forms. As an example, Marcona almonds are a Spanish variety that are more plump than other varieties and richer in flavor. Almonds can be purchased in the shell, shelled whole, sliced, slivered, chopped, or ground. They can be blanched (skins removed), roasted or used as a raw nut.
The bitter nut must be cooked in order to remove a naturally occurring toxin, so they are not consumed raw, but instead are processed for almond oil or almond extract.
It is the sweet almond that is the nut commonly available to be served as snacks or added to salads, entrees, side dishes, baked goods, and desserts.
Blanched almonds have been plunged into boiling water briefly to remove skins. They are commonly used in baked items like cakes and cookies.
Slivered almonds are almonds that have been sliced very thinly into little sticks. They differ from sliced almonds, which are almonds sliced across their diameter giving you much bigger pieces. If you can't keep the shape distinction clear in your head, think of getting a sliver in your finger and what that is shaped like.