Part I: When an Almond Isn't Just an Almond
This is one of those questions that most people don't know how to answer and even more don't know that there's a difference. Almonds are all the same right? Aren't the only differences between nuts are flavors and prices? Neither are true. It's just what is being marketed to us today.
The truth is almonds and walnuts are like apples. They have over 30 different varieties that come with their own unique flavors, shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. You can find Honeycrisp, Fuji, Granny Smith, and Pink Lady apples at the market, and in California almond orchards you can find Nonpareils, Aldrich, Monterey, Butte, Padre, and many more. Walnuts also come in different varieties like Chandler, Livermore, Franquette, Hartley, and Tulare. Some are best for snacking while others are perfect for desserts. Just like apples, there's no real "best" variety. You really should try them all to find your own favorite.
All nuts are not the same in quality either. The US department of Agriculture knows this and it's why they have a grading scale for almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. The scale is different for each nut because they have their own characteristics but overall the highest grades goes to the ones that have a great color, larger size, all of its skin intact, no chips or broken pieces, and the right shape. The highest grades are very rare. You would literally need to sort them out by hand to get a full pound of the highest grade. On the other hand, the lowest or lower grades would not only consist of smaller or broken pieces but they would also have some foreign objects like twigs and dirt, insect bites, and even tolerable amounts of mold. The higher the grade, the more you pay because of the sorting process and quality control. There's also a lot more farming work that goes into growing a quality harvest, and that's not cheap either.
Guess what grades are at the big box retailers and warehouse stores? With food, all food, you really get what you pay for. So when you're getting food for a really low price, stop and check out what you're really buying. More often than not, you trade price for quality. And for nuts like almonds or walnuts, the varieties are all mixed up. You don't really know what you're going to taste. It's part of the reason why sometimes you can get a really bland almond or a very bitter walnut.
At True California, we try to offer the higher grades of almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. We want you to have consistent quality. We also try to offer you different varieties like the Nonpareil and the Aldrich almonds or the Chandler and the Livermore walnuts. We hope that we can offer even more varieties soon so you can truly find your favorite with us. Ultimately, the quality combines with freshness for the best taste, which creates the best experience. So on to part 2, freshness!
Taste the difference and grab your own bag today: