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Nutritious Nuts


Discussions on "Nutritious Nuts" in "Healthy and Nutritive Foods" forum.


  1. #11
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    Re: Nutritious Nuts

    Almonds- 8

    Habitat

    The Almond tree is a native of the warmer parts of western Asia and of North Africa, but it has been extensively distributed over the warm temperate region of the Old World, and is cultivated in all the countries bordering on the Mediterranean. It was very early introduced into England, probably by the Romans, and occurs in the Anglo-Saxon lists of plants, but was not cultivated in England before 1562, and then chiefly for its blossom.

    History

    English name almond came through the French amande, derived from the Late Latin amandela, in turn a form of the Greek amygdalus, the meaning of which is obscure.

    The tree grows freely in Syria and Palestine: it is mentioned in Scripture as one of the best fruit trees of the land of Canaan, and there are many other biblical references to it. Almonds, as well as the oil pressed from them, were well known in Greece and Italy long before the Christian era.

    During the Middle Ages, Almonds became an important article of commerce in Central Europe. Their consumption in medieval cookery was enormous.

    Description


    The Almond belongs to the same group of plants as the rose, plum, cherry and peach, being a member of the tribe Prunae of the natural order Rosaceae. The genus Amygdalusto which it is assigned is very closely allied to Prunus (Plum) in which it has sometimes been merged; the distinction lies in the fruit, the succulent pulp attached to the stone in the plum (known botanically as the mesocarp) being replaced by a leathery separable coat in the almond which is hard and juiceless, of a dingy green tinged with dull red, so that when growing it looks not unlike an unripe apricot. When fully ripe, this green covering dries and splits, and the Almond, enclosed in its rough shell (termed the endocarp) drops out.

    The shell of the Almond is a yellowish buff colour and flattened-ovoid in shape, the outer surface being usually pitted with small holes; frequently it has a more or less fibrous nature.

    Sometimes it is thin and friable (soft-shelled Almond), sometimes extremely hard and woody (hard-shelled Almond).

    The seed itself is rounded at one end and pointed at the other, and covered with a thin brown, scurfy coat.

    The different sorts of Almonds vary in form and size, as well as in the firmness of the shell. The fruit is produced chiefly on the young wood of the previous year, and in part on small spurs of two and three years growth.


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  2. #12
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    Re: Nutritious Nuts

    Almonds- 9

    Description (Countinue)


    The tree is of moderate size,usually from 20 to 30 feet high, with spreading branches the leaveslance-shaped, finely toothed (or serrated) at the edges. The flowers areproduced before the leaves.


    There are two principal formsof the Almond, the one with entirely pink flowers, Amygdalus communis, var. dulcis, producing SweetAlmonds; the other, A.communis, var. amara,with flowers slightly larger, and the petals almost white towards the tips,deepening into rose at the base, producing Bitter Almonds.

    Botanically, theyare considered merely variations of the one type, and the difference in varietyhas been supposed originally to be mainly owing to climate, the Bitter Almondbeing a native of Barbary.

    The Sweet Almond is the earliest to flower, and iscultivated more largely than the Bitter Almond. It is valuable as a food andfor confectionery purposes, as well as in medicine, being rich in bland oil,and sustaining as a nutriment: the staying power conferred by a meal of Almondsand raisins is well known.

    It is only the Bitter Almond in the use of whichcaution is necessary, especially with regard to children, as it possessesdangerous poisonous properties.

    Cultivation
    -

    The early, delicate flowersof the Almond give it a unique position among ornamental trees, and it have aplace in every shrubbery, for it will flourish in any ordinary, well-drainedsoil, both in open and somewhat sheltered situations, and does well in town gardens.


    There are several varieties,differing in colour and size of the flowers: one dwarf variety, A. nana, a native of the LowerDanube, is especially decorative, and is often planted in the forefront ofshrubberies. All the species are deciduous.


    Sicily and Southern Italy arethe chief Almond-producing countries; Spain, Portugal, the South of France, theBalearic Islands and Morocco also export considerable quantities.


    In the southern counties ofEngland it is not uncommon for the tree to produce a fair crop of fruit, thoughit is mostly very inferior to that which is imported.


    The tree is liable todestruction by frosts in many parts of Central Europe. In France and Belgium,when grown in gardens for its fruit, the tender-shelled varieties arepreferred, and the cultivation is the same as for the peach.


  3. #13
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    Re: Nutritious Nuts

    Almonds- 10

    Scientificallyknown as the Prunus dulcis, the almond tree is the cousin of the peach, cherryand the apricot trees. It bears fruits, which have stone like seeds within, andit is these seeds, which are better known as the almond nuts. The tree is asmall deciduous tree that grows to a height ranging from about 4 meters to 10meters.

    Its shoots are green at first but later turn into a purple colour, when theyare exposed to sunlight. The fruit is a drupe, which is about 3.5 to 6 cm long.The outer covering or the exocarp, is a leathery green-grey coat called thehull, which houses the hard shell, which contains the edible kernel. The shellis referred to as the endocarp and matures approximately seven to eight monthsafter flowering.


    Almonds arebelieved to be a native of Western Asia and North Africa. They have beenconsumed by human beings since ancient Greek and Roman times. At present theyare widely grown in the Mediterranean countries and also in Spain, Italy,Portugal, Morocco and California.


    In addition tobeing eaten raw, almonds are a wonderful addition to a variety of recipes fromsalads to baked and cooked foods. Inclusion of almonds in our daily lives cando wonders for our health.

    Almonds provide us with a good source of Vitamin Eand manganese. They also contain ample amounts of copper, riboflavin,magnesium, copper and phosphorous. Though almonds are a rich in fat, most ofthe fat present in them is the heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.



  4. #14
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    Re: Nutritious Nuts

    Almonds- 11

    Types of Almonds

    A wide variety of edible almonds are available in the market in different flavours. Some of the flavours may be enumerated as follows:

    Salted Almonds

    Sweetened Almonds

    Smoked Almonds

    Roasted Almonds

    Dry-roasted Almonds

    Honey Coated Almonds, etc.


  5. #15
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    Re: Nutritious Nuts

    Almonds- 12

    Sweet andBitter Almonds

    Almonds are either sweet or bitter, and this largely depends on the colour ofthe flowers borne by the almond tree. It has been noted that the almond treewith white flowers often produces sweet almonds, whereas the tree bearing pinkflowers produces bitter almonds.

    The bitter almonds are used to make almondoil, which is used in the production of a liquor. The bitter almonds arebroader and shorter than the sweeter ones. The bitter variety may yield about 6to 8 percent of hydrogen cyanide, and larger dozes of the oil extracted fromthem, can even prove deadly. This is the reason why almond oil fell from theprescription list of the doctors in the late 20th century.



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    Re: Nutritious Nuts

    Almonds- 13

    Almond and Its Significance

    Though the exact history of the almonds cannot be traced, but they are believed to have originated in China and Central Asia. Almonds find a mention as far back in history as the Bible. They were an important ingredient in breads served to Egypt's Pharos.

    Through the flourish of trade, explorers ate this healthy nut while traveling via the "silk route" and it was not long before almond trees flourished in the Mediterranean region, especially in Spain and Italy.

    In the mid 1700's, the almond tree was brought to California from Spain. Over the years through cross breading and research, many varieties of almonds are now grown in many regions across the globe.

    Almonds hold a of religious, ethnic and social significance in many cultures. In the Bible's "Book of Numbers", Aron's rod blossomed and bore almonds, thus making almonds a symbol of divine approval. In Rome,

    The newlywed couple were showered with almonds as a fertility charm. Even today, the Americans as a token of love, happiness, good health, etc. give sweetened almonds to guests at weddings.

    In Sweden, there is a Christmas tradition of hiding an almond in cinnamon-flavoured rice pudding; the one who finds the almond has good fortune throughout the year.


  7. #17
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    Re: Nutritious Nuts

    Almonds – 14

    Sweet Almonds

    Family:N.O. Rosaceae
    Botanical: Amygdalus communis (LINN.) var. dulcis

    There are numerous varieties of the Sweet Almond in commerce, the chief being:

    (1) the Jordan Almonds, the finest and best of the Sweet variety. They are distinguished from all other Almonds by their large size, narrow, elongated shape and thin skin;

    (2) Valentia Almonds, which are broader and shorter than the Jordan variety, with a thicker dusty brown, scurfy skin, usually imported in their shell, and sometimes called in consequence, 'Shell Almonds';

    (3) and (4) Sicilian and Barbary Almonds, which closely resemble the Valentia Almonds but are rather smaller and of an inferior quality. They occasionally contain an admixture of Bitter Almonds.

    Sweet Almonds have a bland taste, and the white emulsion formed when they are bruised with water is characterized by no marked odour, the seeds being thus distinguished from Bitter Almonds.

    Medicinal Action and Uses


    Fresh Sweet Almonds possess demulcent and nutrient properties, but as the outer brown skin sometimes causes irritation of the alimentary canal, they are blanched by removal of this skin when used for food.

    Though pleasant to the taste, their nutritive value is diminished unless well masticated, as they are difficult of digestion, and may in some cases induce nettle rash and feverishness.

    They have a special dietetic value, for besides containing about 20 per cent of proteids, they contain practically no starch, and are therefore often made into flour for cakes and biscuits for patients suffering from diabetes.

    On expression they yield nearly half their weight in a bland fixed oil, which is employed medicinally for allaying acrid juices, softening and relaxing solids, and in bronchial diseases, in tickling coughs, hoarseness, costiveness, nephritic pains, etc.

    When Almonds are pounded in water, the oil unites with the fluid, forming a milky juice - Almond Milk - a cooling, pleasant drink, which is prescribed as a diluent in acute diseases, and as a substitute for animal milk.

    Almond emulsions possess in a certain degree the emollient qualities of the oil, and have this advantage over the pure oil, that they may be given in acute or inflammatory disorders without danger of the ill effects which the oil might sometimes produce by turning rancid.

    Sweet Almonds alone are employed in making emulsions, as the Bitter Almond imparts its peculiar taste when treated in this way.

    Blanched and beaten into an emulsion with barley-water, Sweet Almonds are of great use in the stone, gravel and other disorders of the kidneys, bladder and biliary ducts.

    By their oily character, Sweet Almonds sometimes give immediate relief in heartburn. For this, it is recommended to peel and eat six or eight Almonds.

    Almonds are also useful in medicine for uniting substances with water.

    Castor oil is rendered palatable when rubbed up with pounded Almonds and some aromatic distilled water.

    The fixed Oil of Almonds is extracted from both Bitter and Sweet Almonds. If intended for external use, it must, however, be prepared only from Sweet Almonds.

    The seeds are ground in a mill after removing the reddish-brown powder adhering to them and then subjected to hydraulic pressure, the expressed oil being afterwards filtered and bleached, preferably by exposure to light.





  8. #18
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    Re: Nutritious Nuts

    Sweet Almonds -2

    Constituents

    Almond oil is a clear, pale yellow, odourless liquid, with a bland, nutty taste. It consists chiefly of Olein, with a small proportion of the Glyceride of Linoleic Acid and other Glycerides, but contains no Stearin.

    It is thus very similar in composition to Olive Oil (for which it may be used as a pleasant substitute), but it is devoid of Chlorophyll, and usually contains a somewhat larger proportion of Olein than Olive Oil.

    It is used in trade, as well as medicinally, being most valuable as a lubricant for the delicate works of watches.

    It is much employed as an ingredient in toilet soap, for its softening action on the skin.

    It forms a good remedy for chapped hands.


    'The oil newly pressed out of Sweet Almonds is a mitigator of pain and all manner of aches; therefore it is good in pleurisy and colic.

    The oil of Almonds makes smooth the hands and faces of delicate persons, and cleans the skin from all spots and pimples.'


  9. #19
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    Re: Nutritious Nuts

    Almonds- 16

    Bitter Almonds

    Family: N.O. Rosaceae
    Botanical: Amygdalus communis (LINN.) var. amara

    There are several varieties of the Bitter Almond, the best being imported from the south of France, and others from Sicily and Northern Africa (Barbary), where it forms a staple article of trade.

    The annual imports of Bitter Almonds to this country amount normally to about 300 tons.

    The seeds are used chiefly as a source of Almond Oil, but also yield a volatile oil, which is largely employed as a flavouring agent.

    Bitter Almonds are usually shorter, proportionately broader and smaller, and less regular than the Sweet Almonds.

    They contain about 50 per cent of the same fixed oil which occurs in the Sweet Almond, and are also free from starch. The bitter taste is characteristic.

    Constituents


    The Bitter Almond differs from the Sweet Almond in containing a colourless, crystalline glucoside, Amygdalin, of which the Sweet is entirely destitute.

    This substance is left in the cake obtained after the oil has been expressed, and can be extracted from it by digestion with alcohol.

    Many other rosaceous plants contain Amygdalin, such as the peach, apricot, plum, etc., not only in the seed, but also in the young shoots and flower-buds.


    The Bitter Almond seed also contains a ferment Emulsin(The white milky pulp or extract of bitter almonds), which in presence of water acts on the soluble glucoside Amygdalin yielding glucose, prussic acid and the essential oil of Bitter Almonds, or Benzaldehyde, which is not used in medicine.

    Bitter Almonds yield from 6 to 8 per cent of Prussic Acid. About 5 lb. of the seeds yield on the average half an ounce of the essential oil.
    The term 'prussic acid' owes its origin to the fact of its having been first obtained from Prussian blue.

    This acid is contained in small quantities in the leaves and seeds of some of our commonest fruits, especially in apple pips. While it is a valuable remedy for some diseases, it is also a deadly poison and its action is extremely rapid.

    The leaves of the Cherry-laurel (Prunus lauro-cerasus) owe their activity to the prussic acid they contain.

    The laurel water made by distillation is a dangerous poison, and is so variable in strength, that it is unsuited for administration as a medicinal agent. Several fatal cases have occurred from its injudicious use.

    The essential volatile oil of Bitter Almonds is used in confectionery and culinary flavouring, but on account of its poisonous nature, great care ought to be exercised in its use.


    Simple water, strongly impregnated by distillation with the volatile oil, will cause giddiness, headache and dimness of sight.





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