Ground almonds – also known as almond meal or almond flour – are a fairly common ingredient in many different types of recipes, from cookies, tarts and cakes to a wide variety of gluten free baked goods. It is also a popular choice for breading meats in place of, or in addition to, bread crumbs. Almond meal and almond flour both appear in ingredient lists – is there a difference between them?
Almond meal and almond flour are both finely ground almonds and there is no official difference between the two products. The terms can be used interchangeably. In practice, however, almond flour is often much more finely ground than almond meal is and has a more uniform consistency. Almond meal can be blanched (skins removed) or unblanched, while most products labeled almond flour are blanched. For most recipes, you can use almond meal or almond flour, regardless of which is specifically called for in a recipe and get good results. There are a few recipes out there, however, where you should take into account the consistency of the product you’re working with. French macarons are a good example, because most bakers will want the finest almond flour that they can find (usually blanched, as well) to get the smoothest looking finished macarons. People who use almond meal for breading often prefer a coarser consistency for a little more texture.
You can make your own almond meal by whizzing whole almonds in the food processor until finely ground. If you prefer a finer consistency to your ground almonds, you can sift your homemade almond meal a few times to remove any larger pieces of almond that you might not want in your finished product.