Green Almonds in the Market Now


I think native Californians have a terrible problem of not realizing quite how lucky they are. There’s the weather thing, of course, but what I’m talking about is the access—with all this gorgeous countryside just outside the city limits, things show up at the farmers markets here that are far from typical. You may already feel tired of asparagus after gorging on it these first few weeks, but elsewhere they’re still picking through the same tired heads of cabbage and barrels of potatoes. It’s not pretty.

Also, because this city is such a huge melting pot and because there are a lot of adventurous eaters here, unusual ingredients make their way into our kitchens—then we stop and think, wait—what do we do with this? Right now, that seasonal mystery ingredient is green almonds. Green almonds are just what you think they are—almonds in waiting, not fully mature. They have a short season, only about three weeks, during which time they go through a few distinct micro-seasons.

Fuzzy wuzzy was a green almond.
Photo by Sara Deseran

The first green almonds (available now) have crisp, crunchy exteriors and gelatinous interiors, where the nascent nut would eventually develop. Rinse them, dip them into bowls of kosher salt and eat whole—perfect with a glass of rosé.

In another week, the center nut will begin to harden—the kernel will be skinless, pliable and ivory in color, and they’re best eaten out of the shell (just take a sharp knife and crack them open to remove), atop fruit dessert or cold yogurt soups. You can also brine or pickle them to eat later down the line, maybe alongside some pâté or cured meat? For those of you who own the Zuni cookbook, take a look at the cover. That still life of prosciutto, nectarines and fuzzy mystery ingredient? Green almonds!

We saw the first batch of them at Avedano’s Market in Bernal Heights earlier this week, which means they’re likely to appear in earnest at farmers markets throughout the city this weekend. Be on the lookout.

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