Raw Almonds at Trader Joe's
I saw some packages of raw almonds at TJ's but I thought that raw almonds are illegal. Are these really raw, or mis-labeled?
I need raw almonds for a blood orange, dates, and almonds recipe from Goin's cookbook Sunday at Lucques.
I have been looking around and this is what I came up with - mainly through googling this topic etc . The customer relations lady wrote this on the subject:
"Trader Joe's California almonds are steam pasteurized and are heated to 115 degrees. There are no chemicals involved in this process. The almonds are labeled as raw
because the steam pasteurization of almonds is an industry standard and
all almonds that have been steam pasteurized will be labeled in this
manner not just Trader Joe's. If you are looking for almonds that have
not been pasteurized please look in our stores for a country of origin
labeling, as only California Almonds will be pasteurized. All other nuts
labeled Raw are completely raw."
Now from the above I figured that though raw almonds are still illegal in the US, there are loopholes. I guess if the almonds have not originated from the US then they are actually raw even though there was a bill passed in 2007 making it illegal to purchase them. Either way you can purchase online or at farmers markets.
I'm a big fan of raw almonds and was totally devastated when I found out about this new law prohibiting truly raw almonds. Costco's almonds are now no longer labeled as raw, and taste like it, too. The soft chewy sweetness is totally gone.
Same for Trader Joe's, with one fantastic exception: their Valencia almonds. As PerfectlyPastry pointed out, there is indeed that non-U.S. origin loophole -- actually two, the other one I'll get to in a moment -- and so their tiny bag of Valencia (Spain) almonds are truly raw (but expensive).
The other loophole I'm less clear on, but only because I read about it months ago and forgot the specifics, has to do with something like the mass producing and selling of raw almonds, which is illegal, but which leaves small businesses and farmers market stands to sell raw almonds legally. But at the Torrance Farmers Market I was disappointed to find that the one stand selling nuts, including almonds, also pasteurized them, so I didn't bother with them.
Online seems to be your best bet for larger quantities of raw almonds.
If you want raw almonds and other "raw nuts", try going to an E European type market. Israeli, Armenian, Persian. I usually find the true raw nuts in such venues. IE: I have seen them in the past at Valley Produce on Reseda/Vanowen. I have also seen them in small Russian markets. The bags are unmarked/non-commerical. Good Luck
Back when Dr. Mehmet Oz was a regular on Oprah, he said that people should eat raw almonds daily, and that roasting inactivates some of the healthful compounds in raw almonds. They supposedly help lower cholesterol and combat inflammation, so I've been eating 8 raw and 4 Tamari Almonds (TJ's) daily. Not crazy about the raw taste, so I pop two raw and one tamari into my mouth at once. I don't like salty nuts and the tamari ones don't taste overly salty. Does anyone know if pasteurizing completely negates the benefits of raw almonds? BTW, I used to get the raw ones at TJ's but realized the Costco ones were just as good, and cost less.