Try a green almond, the tart, fuzz-covered nut that's a 'treat from home'

·2 min read
Mahnaz Nassaji showcases the green almonds at the Victory Meat Market, a treat she had growing up in Iran that she did not expect to see on New Brunswick shelves. (Shane Fowler/CBC News - image credit)
Mahnaz Nassaji showcases the green almonds at the Victory Meat Market, a treat she had growing up in Iran that she did not expect to see on New Brunswick shelves. (Shane Fowler/CBC News - image credit)

Many shoppers might see the fuzzy green orbs at the Victory Meat Market in Fredericton as an oddity, giving them only a passing glance before moving on to the more familiar terrain of peppers and tomatoes.

Others take a different view of these green almonds: they're an absolute surprise treat from home.

Mahnaz Nassaji, who came to Canada from Iran and now works at the market, says the sight of the almonds evokes good memories.

"And when I see this I [am] happy."

Green almonds are the unripe almonds, picked within the briefest of windows each spring.

Biting through an outer shell that feels like peach fuzz gives a satisfying crunch. Inside, the underdeveloped almond is still quite soft and gushes with a tart, almost sour flavour.

The almonds go for $4.99 a pound.

"If you came from Iran or the Middle East to New Brunswick, this would be like a comfort food, something you might have had when you were a child," said Ben McFarlane, a Victory Meat Market employee who works with advertising and marketing.

Shane Fowler/CBC News
Shane Fowler/CBC News

McFarlane said the green almonds were ordered on a whim when an employee originally from Lebanon noticed they were available and also remembered them as a treat growing up.

While some shoppers might see the green almonds as just an exotic addition, McFarlane said they're a symbol of how New Brunswick's tastes are starting to shift.

"We try to diversify a little bit because the community is beginning to diversify," he said. "We found that it's been a crazy response."

Shane Fowler/CBC News
Shane Fowler/CBC News

But while green almonds may be a newer treat for the area, they're similar to a very old snack that used to be enjoyed in the city.

"These green almonds, they kind of connect to our British history and even Fredericton's culinary history," said McFarlane. "They're a 'green nut,' which means you're eating the whole nut, and in British culture we used to pickle walnuts."

Butternuts too were eaten here as a type of green nut, not unlike the green almonds.

McFarlane has a recipe dating back to 1911 from the wife of one of Fredericton's former mayors for pickling butternuts.

Shane Fowler/CBC News
Shane Fowler/CBC News

"At that time, we were eating green nuts a little more than we are now," said McFarlane, pleased the food seems to have come full circle over the last century.

He expects the green almonds will be gone in a flash. The usual season for green almonds lasts just a few weeks every spring.

"All of the people like this fruit," Nassaji said. "It's a short time, but delicious."

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