We all know almonds are a healthy snack and a great dessert ingredient.
But get this: almonds are not nuts. They're seeds of a fruit.?
More specifically, they're seeds of the almond fruit, which grows on a tree and is very similar to a peach, botanically speaking. When the almond fruit is ripe, we remove its flesh and shell, then eat the small kernel inside.?
In the botanical world, a nut is a dry, hard-shelled fruit. But as you can see, almonds have a fleshy outer layer. Therefore they’re technically not nuts, but a different kind of fruit called a drupe, said Tom Gradziel, an almond researcher at the University of California, Davis.
You could compare them to another drupe you know well.?
“Almonds are basically peaches,” Gradziel told HuffPost. “But instead of the fruity part becoming fleshy, most of it sizes up in the kernel.”
Almonds are indeed a member of the prunus family that includes peaches, though not the same species. The plants are incredibly similar. Both Gradziel and Richard Rosecrance, a fruit tree researcher at California State University, Chico, told of farmers in Asia who breed peach-like fruits for their large, edible kernels, which can be removed from the pit and snacked on like almonds.
In the U.S., farmers mix almonds’ outer flesh into feed for dairy cows, Gradziel said.