|green almond pickles.|
You know what it's like. You're minding your own business, getting your groceries... and suddenly, out of the corner of the eye, you spy something. Something attractive. Something different. Something interesting. Something you'd never tried before. Something you'd like to try. Something that has so much potential... and you know, you just know that you could have something special together, if you'd only muster up the courage to give it a go.
|fresh almonds, aka green almonds.|
Ah, yes... I'm talking about fresh almonds, also known as spring almonds, or green almonds: the young, fleshy fruit of the almond tree that can be eaten whole.
Fresh almonds mature fast, so keep that in mind if you buy them. If you'd like to eat the entire fruit, do that while they're young - the outer skin turns hard and bitter as they ripen. Of course, all is not lost - you can then eat the nut inside. (Though technically, the part of almond we usually eat is not a nut, but the seed of the almond fruit!)
Anyway, I brought these little beauties home and immediately sliced them in half to investigate. Then I tasted them. The outer skin is tart, the astringent quality reminiscent of an under-ripe fruit, with hints of guava. The translucent inner kernel resembles a mild and refreshing jelly, with an almost lychee-like texture, and a subtle hint of sweetness.
|cross-section of a fresh green almond cut into halves.|
After sampling my fresh green almonds, I thought they would make fantastic pickles - similar to the ones my mum makes with green mangoes, which I love. And so it was that I made green almond pickles with my fresh almonds... and they turned out just as I hoped - sweet, tangy, with a hint of spice and salt.
We had some really good times, my pickled almonds and I. I'm glad I initiated* our sassy little romance... and I'm sure we'll meet again for round two.
*The almonds insisted they were actually the ones who initiated by looking at me, then looking away, then looking at me again, and that I totally fell for it hook, line and sinker.
300g green almonds (approximately 30 almonds, or 2/3lb)
2 medium-sized hot red chillies
1 cup water
1 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup Chinese white rice vinegar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Wash fresh almonds. Slice each almond vertically into halves. For a neater appearance, trim their twiggy ends. If you like, you may also take out the kernels and eat them - the best part for pickling is the outer shell.
Slice chillies horizontally into thin rings.
Transfer the fresh almonds and fresh chillies into sterilised jars. (I sterilise my jars by washing them thoroughly and then letting them sit in boiling water for a couple of minutes.)
In a saucepan, stir water, sugar, vinegar, salt and nutmeg over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat and pour over fresh almonds and chillies. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly.
Seal the jars and place in the fridge for a minimum of one week to allow the flavours to fully develop. Give the jars a good shake once or twice a day for the first three days.
After that, the pickles should keep for at least a month in the fridge, probably longer.
*Note: For those in Melbourne who may be interested, I found my fresh green almonds at Cato Fruits & Vegetables. No. 10-12, Cato Street, Prahran, Victoria 3181. Otherwise, other specialty or ethnic food stores might stock them from time to time. I hear they have short, sporadic seasons though, so it's a matter of luck and timing.)
|pickled green almonds.|