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Food glossary

Almonds

Almonds

These are the seeds of a Mediterranean tree of the peach family. They are believed to have originated in the near East and have long been considered the most important nut in gastronomy. Their flavour is even better when chopped and roasted or toasted. For almonds at their best, with the strongest flavour, buy them unblanched, skinning and preparing them just before use.

To store:
In a cool dry place away from direct sunlight.

Essence

This is a clear liquid which has a strong flavour of almonds. It is often used in recipes that contain ground almonds to bring out the flavour of the almonds. It is very strong and should be used sparingly.

Paste (marzipan)

This is made with ground almonds combined with egg. Its most common use is for covering cakes before they are iced.

To store:
Almond paste can be stored for a short time in a cool, dry store cupboard. It should be used quickly after purchase as it has a high oil content.

Blanched

Simply almonds without their brown papery skins. To skin them, cover with boiling water, stirring once or twice while soaking for 3-5 minutes. Pinch off the skins.

To store:
In a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Flaked

These are blanched almonds which have been sliced to produced flat discs. Skin as above and then, while still hot and soft, flake them quickly with a potato peeler or small vegetable knife, paring off the side of the nut. (They go brittle if left to go cold and dry.)

To store:
In a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Ground

These can be made in a liquidizer from chopped or flaked blanched almonds - not too many at a time. If ground almonds are used in a fruitcake, their purpose is to help to keep it moist, as well as to give flavour.

To store:
In a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Toasted

These are blanched, chopped almonds which have been toasted under a gentle heat. Keep turning the almonds with a fork until they are light brown in colour. Don't leave them unattended, as they can burn very quickly due to their high oil content. You can also dry-fry almonds to obtain the same flavour as toasted almonds, simply heat a solid-based non stick frying pan and fry the almonds, stirring all the time, until they start to go light brown.

To store:
In a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Roasted

Similar to toasted almonds but are cooked in the oven at 180°C, gas mark 4 for 8-10 minutes. Again, keep a close eye on them as they burn quickly.

To store:
In a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Silvered

These are flaked as above, but split through the middle and then cut finely longways

To store:
In a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Roasted marcona almonds

These are whole Spanish almonds, that have a distinctive flat, almost round shape. Waitrose Marcona almonds are skinned and roasted to produce a light golden brown sweet nut.

Uses:
Ideal for use in baking or adding to risottos, vegetarian bakes or stuffed peppers or simply serve as a snack with pre-dinner drinks.

To store: In a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

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