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Almond meal, almond flour and ground almonds are all made from crushed sweet almonds.
Once specifically used in traditional baking such as macarons, marzipan and frangipane, they are gaining popularity in gluten-free and low-carb diets. But what is the difference – is almond meal the same as almond flour?
Almond meal vs almond flour
The difference between them is pretty straightforward. Whilst almond meal is made from whole almonds, almond flour is made from peeled blanched almonds.
Commercially bought ground almonds may be labelled as almond meal, almond flour, or just ground almonds. The difference is not official so it may or may not contain skins, and could be anywhere from coarse to finely ground.
What is almond meal?
Strictly speaking, almond meal is made from raw, whole almonds. This gives a slightly coarser texture, with a creamy flavour, and brown fibrous flecks from the skin. It is less refined than the flour, which is slightly cooked as well as skin-free. The blanching process removes a little of the natural water so the resulting flour can be more finely ground and has a milder, yet slightly nuttier flavour.
Is almond meal the same as ground almonds?
Theoretically, ground almonds should be without skins yet not as finely ground as flour. If a recipe states almond meal then you really want the completely raw version with its fibre intact. But if ground almonds are the only thing available then by all means use them. For classic recipes such as macarons, look for traditional ground almonds in the baking aisle.
Nutritionally, the only difference between the two is that meal has a higher fibre content, and also more antioxidants and minerals from the skin.
Is almond meal gluten-free?
Almond meal is gluten-free and a popular choice in gluten- and grain-free baking. All gluten free flours behave differently so the ratios used will rarely be a one-on-one switch for wheat flour. Depending on your dietary preferences and the results you are looking for, a blend of several alternative flours is probably the way to go.
Is almond meal low-carb?
Almond meal, and almonds in general, are the low-carb and keto dieters friend. Hugely versatile, they make a whole range of foods more accessible.
Can I use almond meal instead of almond flour?
You can use them interchangeably but there will be differences in the final bake. Almond flour is lighter in colour and more finely textured so gives a more polished result. A batch of cookies made with almond meal will be deliciously wholesome and rustic, whereas almond flour would give a cake the light fluffy texture it requires.
How to make almond meal
To make almond meal, blitz whole raw almonds in a blender until fine. Use the highest setting and pulse in 10 second bursts, shaking the blender each time. If you go too far it will become almond butter, so as soon as it shows signs of clumping; stop! 2 cups of almonds will yield 1 cup almond meal or flour.
If you want a finer almond meal, with the fibre intact, try drying your almonds in a low oven before crushing.
How to store almond meal
Almonds oxidise quickly due to the high levels of omega-6 and Vitamin E. Keep your almond meal in an airtight container, preferably one that blocks out the light. Keep in a cool dark place for up to a month.
How to make almond meal from almond pulp
You can also make almond meal from the pulp that remains after making almond milk. Almond meal made from pulp will be drier and lighter, with a finer texture.
Squeeze as much as the liquid from the almond pulp as you can. It will keep in the fridge for a week, and if you don’t want to use it to make almond meal then you can simply add it to smoothies or yoghurt. To dry it out to make almond meal, spread in a layer on a baking tray lined with parchment. Bake for a few hours at 90C, stirring often. You want it to dry yet not become brown. Cool completely before blitzing to a fine dry powder.