There are two varieties, sweet almond (P. dulcis variety dulcis) and bitter almond (P. dulcis variety amara). Sweet almonds are the familiar, edible type consumed as nuts and used in cooking or as a source of almond oil or almond meal. The oil of bitter almonds is used in the manufacture of flavouring extracts for foods and liqueurs, though prussic acid must first be removed. Almonds may be eaten raw, blanched, or roasted and are commonly used in confectionery baking. In Europe almonds are used to make marzipan, a sweet paste used in pastries and candy, and in Asia almonds are often used in meat, poultry, fish, and vegetarian dishes.
The almond kernel is consumed either in the natural state or processed. Because of its good flavor, crunchy texture, and good visual appeal, it has many important food uses. As an ingredient in many manufactured food products, kernels may be roasted dry or in oil followed by salting with various seasonings (Schirra 1997;Woodroof 1979). The processed kernel is used either blanched or unblanched. Blanching removes the pellicle using hot water or steam. Large amounts of kernels are combined with chocolate in confectionery. Almond kernels can be sliced or diced to be used in pastry, ice cream, breakfast cereals, and vegetable mixtures. The kernels are also ground into paste to be used in bakery products and in the production of marzipan. The flavor and texture of almonds can be intensified or moderated through proper selection of cultivar, origin, moisture content, and processing and handling procedures.