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Bitter Almonds- What You Need To Know

All almonds fall into two categories - bitter almonds and sweet almonds. While sweet almonds are perfectly safe to consume raw, bitter almonds, on the other hand, are toxic and must be processed before they are safe. Before you read this quick introduction to bitter almonds, you may want to take a look at our piece on Everything You Need To Know About Almonds.

What Do Bitter Almonds Look Like?

Bitter almonds look very similar to sweet almonds. They have light brown skin and a white interior, and at first glance, you could mistake them for regular almonds. The two main differences between the appearance of sweet almonds and bitter almonds are that bitter almonds tend to be smaller, and they also tend to be slightly pointier.

If you’re now panicking about eating bitter almonds by accident, don’t fear - bitter almonds, as their name suggests, taste pretty dreadful raw, and so you’d struggle to consume more than one before realizing something wasn’t quite right. If you think that you’ve eaten raw bitter almonds by mistake, contact a health professional immediately. 

Why Are Raw Bitter Almonds Toxic?

Raw bitter almonds contain very high levels of a compound known as hydrocyanic acid - an organic version of the poison cyanide. Even just a handful of raw bitter almonds contains enough hydrocyanic acid to be fatal, which is why raw bitter almonds are prohibited in certain countries, including the United States. Before sale, most bitter almonds are pre-processed to remove their hydrogenic acid and make them safe to eat, but you should always check the package before consuming them just in case.

How Are Bitter Almonds Used? 

Despite their toxicity, bitter almonds are still grown and processed in vast quantities because they have a much stronger flavor and more pungent aroma than sweet almonds. After heating, they are often processed to release their essential oils, which can then be used to flavor almond liqueurs and create almond extracts. 

Some popular dishes that feature bitter almonds include marzipan and stollen. In addition to their culinary uses, bitter almonds are also processed and used in cosmetic products, hand soaps, and even candles!

Can You Snack On Processed Bitter Almonds?

While cooked and processed bitter almonds may be safe to eat, they still tend to taste pretty bitter. If you’re planning on snacking on almonds, then sweet almonds are a much more palatable option. If you’re trying to make your almond syrup or almond oil, on the other hand, then bitter almonds will produce a more robust flavor. 

May 18, 2021 by Gillian Brady
Tags: almonds

4 Places To Find Good Almonds

4 Places To Find Good Almonds


The almond industry has boomed in recent years with production in California alone more than quadrupling over the past three decades to become the world’s single largest almond supplier and exporter. Despite most of the almonds consumed around the world all originating from one place, that does not mean that they are all equal and so it’s important to seek out the best quality almonds that you can if you are to enjoy the best flavor and eating experience. So where can you find good quality almonds? Here are 4 places to consider. 

  1. Amazon

That’s right, you can buy virtually anything on Amazon nowadays, including almonds!  Amazon is home to a number of almond retailers offering a huge variety of almond products ranging from whole almonds, flavored almonds, nut milk, and nut butter, all at a number of different price-points. With so many retailers selling their products on Amazon the quality of the almonds you find may differ, but one thing’s for sure, when it comes to variety, there sure are a lot of almonds to choose from, and if you buy almonds from Amazon you may even get them delivered the very next day with their Prime delivery. 

  1. Walmart 

If you prefer to buy your almonds at the grocery store, then Walmart also usually has a pretty good offering. Buying almonds from Walmart will give you access to a number of different types of almonds from a range of brands that are traditionally stocked in other budget stores. Some larger Walmarts even have self-serve nut counters where you can weigh out your almonds yourself, which is great if you’re trying to reduce waste or only need a certain quantity. 

  1. Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market is the premier option if you wish to buy almonds from the grocery store and they have long stood out as one of the best places to buy premier nut products. Whole Foods’ almonds are often far better quality than those you’ll find at Walmart, or online at Amazon, and are clean-sorted too - but for this premium product, you can also expect to pay a premium price, with Whole Foods almonds often coming in dramatically more expensive than other options. If you want to spend a little more then you won’t be disappointed, but Whole Foods’ Almonds may not be affordable for everyone. 

  1. Ayoub’s Dried Fruits & Nuts

Almonds are graded by the USDA depending on their size and other quality control factors, but ensuring that you eat the best quality almond doesn’t end with buying a highly graded, clean sorted, raw almond product. Chef Ayoub founded Ayoub’s Dried Fruits and Nuts in the early 1980s to fill an obvious gap in the market for premium roasted nut products. Unlike other nut wholesalers, Chef Ayoub not only selected the highest quality raw almonds but then ensured to carry the same quality through into his almond roasting process, with all his almond mixes roasted by hand using artisanal practices. As a family business, Chef Ayoub has now passed the business onto his son, Amir, who continues to roast the highest quality almonds for their customers, using the same techniques that were passed down to him by his father. At Ayoub’s, almonds are carefully selected, further sorted and masterfully roasted. Ayoub’s is the place to shop at if you want to guarantee high quality, without needing to pay top tier prices and you can shop both in-store or online depending on the method you prefer. 



If your looking for ways to get creative with your almonds, check out our article on 5 Ways To Add Almonds to Your Daily Diet.

November 04, 2020 by Gillian Brady