The terms "almond meal" and "almond flour" are often used interchangeably in food preparation, but they are not always the same thing. It's important to know the properties of both before cooking or preparing food with them.
Almond meal is made from ground, whole almonds. Some meal is made from whole almonds that have the brown skin intact, and some almond meal is made from almonds that have been blanched, a heating process that removes the skin. Each almond meal variety has a slightly different texture and flavor.
Almond Meal, Skins Intact
Almond meal made from the entire almond, including the skin, may be coarsely or finely ground. Its has a crumbly texture that makes it suitable for fish or chicken breading fish or for cookie or brownie topping. Because the skin is left on, this variety of almond meal has a speckled, sandy brown appearance. Store it in a dark part of the pantry in an airtight container or in the freezer.
Almond Meal, Blanched Nuts
Almond meal made with blanched nuts tastes slightly sweeter than meal made with the skins left on. Blanching is a process of scalding the raw almonds, which loosens the skin. The skin is rubbed off, leaving the white flesh of the nut. This variety of almond meal has a creamy white color and is suitable for use in making almond paste, the main ingredient in Marzipan.
Almond flour is made from blanched almonds that have been finely ground to a light, powdery consistency, similar to cornmeal. Almond flour can be used in place of wheat flour in baking quick breads, muffins and pancakes. Or, use it as a gluten-free thickener in soups and savory dishes, particularly those enhanced by a nutty flavor, such as cream of broccoli, potato, cauliflower or carrot soup.
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