Facts about almonds

Almonds were introduced into California by the Franciscans, who planted the trees for food and shade at a chain of missions along the trail from present-day San Diego to as far north as Sonoma. But the delights of almonds date back to centuries earlier.

The practice of giving sugared or hard candy-coated Jordan almonds to guests at weddings was started by the Fabian family of ancient Rome about 177 BC.

Almonds were also a major source of oil for light in Anatolia, an area that is today part of modern Turkey. Almonds grew there in abundance in ancient times.

The delicate almond oil is used in soaps, creams, lotions -- and, of course, in cooking. Toasting almonds

To toast almonds, spread in an ungreased baking pan or skillet.

Place in a 350 degree F. oven or on medium-low heat on stovetop for 5 to 10 minutes, or until they are a light golden brown. Stir once or twice to ensure even browning.

Almonds will continue to brown slightly after being removed from heat. When cool, add to blender jar or food processor bowl and grind quickly by turning machine rapidly on and off several times.

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