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What Happens When Almonds Come Out of Their Shells


How a Seed Is Putting Sustainability on the Menu

Ahh, the almond…one of my favorite snacks! Almond kernels—or drupes—are healthy, flavorful, morsels nestled inside a hard shell that’s surrounded by an exterior hull.

But did you know that, for every pound of almond kernels produced, there are more than two pounds of hulls and shells that no one really wants? (Unless you count the cows who are often fed the bitter leftovers.)

And did you also know that crushing and compressing these almond byproducts yields a sugar which can be used to create ciders, beers and teas? Or that when powdered almond hulls are added to recycled plastic, it becomes even stronger and more heat resistant?

Almond Waste

More people should know how amazing recycling almonds are for the environment.

Posted by ATTN: on Thursday, May 3, 2018

According to an article by Fast Company, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with startup companies to incorporate the waste material from almonds into compostable products and improve the quality of recycled plastic. These hulls are also being used to create ethanol, and plans to convert almond shells into renewable diesel are in the works.

Did You

  • Almond trees rely on bees to pollinate them. In turn, the bees use this pollen for food.
  • Almonds require less water to grow than oranges, broccoli, walnuts and tomatoes, but more than pistachios and strawberries.
  • Almonds are a seed rather than a true nut. They are a member of the peach family.
  • One handful of almonds provides about an eighth of the protein we need every day.
  • Almonds have been shown to lower cholesterol and boost vitamin E levels.
  • Almonds (along with peanuts and walnuts) can help reduce the risk of breast cancer and may help prevent heart disease.
  • Almonds can help reduce blood pressure.

Some people are allergic to almonds. If this is you, avoid food products that may contain them, such as frangipane, marzipan and praline as well as some cakes, breads, ice cream, chocolates, candies and certain liqeurs.

comment_2Were you aware that almond waste material could be used to strengthen plastic or as a basis for biofuel? What other waste materials can you think of that have been used in beneficial new ways? Please share your thoughts with our readers below.


I'm nuts about almonds!

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Kim Metzger
Kim Metzger
5 years ago

It would be interesting to know if people with almond allergies can use plastics made with almond waste. Can it trigger a reaction when it comes in contact with their skin? Or when food they eat comes in contact with the plastic?

5 years ago
Reply to  Kim Metzger

That is a great question, Kim. One blogger we found does note a connection: https://onespotallergy.com/2011/09/buyer-beware-household-products-made-from-peanuts-or-nuts/

Amy Taivalkoski
Amy Taivalkoski
5 years ago

I love your blog, but there is always more to the story isn’t there? These issues are complicated and context is important.

I think it is important to note that “unlike other crops, almonds always require a lot of water—even during drought. Annual crops like cotton, alfalfa, and veggies (like broccoli) are flexible—farmers can fallow them in dry years. That’s not so for nuts, which need to be watered every year, drought or no, or the trees die, wiping out farmers’ investments.

Also that “About two-thirds of California’s almond and pistachio crops are sent overseas—a de facto export of California’s overtapped water resources.” We don’t realize how much water we actually export in water hungry products.


5 years ago

Amy, thanks for your comments and adding these interesting insights!

Leigh-Ann Ross
Leigh-Ann Ross
5 years ago

Love them almonds!!

Lia Thompson
Lia Thompson
5 years ago

I hadnt realised how great almonds can be! Does anyone grow them independently like they would tomatoes for example? Are there different parts of the US that they are mainly grown? If I could afford it I would make the most out the almond 🙂