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Sweet almonds have a subtle fragrance that lends itself well to baking and also works well with fish and chicken. Classic almond dishes include trout and almonds, Bakewell tart, Tarta de Santiago, macaroons and frangipane tart as well as a variety of cakes, soups, stews and curries.
Bitter almonds are used to make oil, extract and liqueurs such as Amaretto.
Almonds are grown all over Europe. You can buy almonds shelled or unshelled, ground, chopped or flaked and ready-toasted.
Ground almonds are sometimes used instead of, or as well as, flour in baking. If you're looking for a gluten-free option then a cake made in this way is a good alternative. Cakes made with almonds have a distinct nutty flavour and a moist texture. Popular cake covering, marzipan, is made from ground almonds and sugar syrup.
Find out about the health benefits of nuts.
Keep almonds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Unshelled almonds will keep for up to a year. For shop-bought, prepared almonds see the package for use-by dates. Once opened, you can keep them in a container in the fridge for added freshness.
Freshly made marzipan should be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Shop-bought varieties will last much longer - check use-by dates.
They can be used as decoration, or for desserts, in sweets and pastries such as praline or the Spanish version of nougat and in macaroons and marzipan. In savoury dishes theyre used in everything from stuffings to salads and tagines to pilau. Several recipes might tell you to toast almonds before using them which intensifies their flavour and gives more colour and crunch. For the freshest flavour, grind your own almonds as you need them because they become stale quickly.
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