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(Photo: healthaliciousness/Flickr.)
It turns out that almond hulls and shells are mighty useful.

With demand on the rise for almond products of all kinds, a growing heap of shells and hulls need to be put to use or will otherwise end up in a landfill. USDA researchers have found multiple uses for these shells, according to Fast Company.

The hulls and shells of almonds are often used as bedding for livestock or fed to cows. But because the demand for dairy has shrunk — you can thank almond milk for that — the need for almond hulls and shells in this instance has also reduced. The Almond Board of California is working with the USDA to change that. Recent research has found that almond shells and hulls can be used in a myriad of ways.

Currently, compostable dinnerware isn’t the strongest. If you’ve ever used a biodegradable fork, you know them to be flimsy and not able to withstand high temperatures. Researchers theorize that making bio-based dinnerware by adding ground almond shells to recycled plastics will make for stronger biodegradable forks, knives and spoons.

The hulls are also high in sugar, which some researchers are testing out in beer and hard cider brewing, tea and as a alternative for high fructose corn syrup. The sugar can also be extracted to feed honeybees (a healthy alternative to their current diets of corn syrup) and humans as well mushroom cultivation. Additionally, the bitterness of the shells is being tested as flavoring agents in beer for drinkers who enjoy a high IBU (International Bitter Unit).

Almond production in California recently bounced back after a four-year-long drought, according to Bloomberg. It’s just in time to meet the future of almond shell innovation.