Grades and Standards
USDA grades for natural almonds are voluntary minimum standards. The California Almond industry can supply almonds to customers’ unique specifications, both in terms of sizes and grades, based on the intended applications.
UNDERSTANDING USDA GRADES
The highest grade and often best used in products in which the visual appeal of the almond is critical.
U.S. EXTRA NO. 1:
Similar to U.S. Fancy, this almond is ideal for food applications in which the appearance of the almond is very important.
U.S. NO. 1:
Sometimes referred to as "Supreme," and often used for whole-almond applications or for further processing like blanching and roasting.
U.S. SELECT SHELLER RUN:
A mid-quality grade, this is a good choice for applications that occur within a mix or are used with other ingredients. This grade is also optimal for grinding, roasting, dicing, blanching and slicing.
U.S. STANDARD SHELLER RUN:
A good grade, best used when a higher level of split and broken kernels is not a concern. Blanching, dicing, grinding and/or paste are the best use for this grade of almond.
U.S. NO. 1 WHOLE & BROKEN AND U.S. NO. 1 PIECES:
Lower grade, often used for grinding.
One side of a double kernel is flat or concave.
Occurs when different varieties of almonds are found in a single load.
Two kernels developing in one shell. One side of a double kernel is flat or concave.
CHIP AND SCRATCH:
Loss of kernel skin as a result of mechanical processing. Greater than 1/8" (3.2 mm) in diameter, it is defined as injury; if affecting, in aggregate, greater than 1/4" (6.4 mm) in diameter, it is defined as defect.
Pieces of shell, hulls, or other foreign matter that will not pass through a round-opening screen measuring 8/64" (3.2 mm) in diameter.
PARTICLES AND DUST:
Fragments of almond kernels or other material that will pass through a round-opening screen measuring 8/64" (3.2 mm) in diameter.
SPLIT AND BROKEN:
When seven-eighths or less of complete, whole kernels will not pass through a round-opening screen measuring 8/64" (3.2 mm) in diameter.
Any defect that materially detracts from the appearance of the individual kernel or the edible or shipping quality of the almonds. This can include gum, shriveling, brown spots and discoloration.
Any defect that makes the kernel unsuitable for use (includes decay, rancidity, insect injury and damage by mold).