We smelled the fragrant blossom in March and watched the velvet pods grow and burst open to reveal their fruit; almond season has arrived.
It’s a labour of love harvesting them; the husks split allowing the shell to dry, then they’re blown to the ground or plucked from the tree. For much of the year the trees look like they’re on their last legs – dry, ugly and put in the shade by the more handsome olive and citrus trees that surround them. [All photos © con jamón spain.]
Finding a shady spot, the shells are hammered off for what seems like eternity – biceps becoming Popeye-like with every blow. A large basket produces a small bowl, but it’s worth the effort. We’re using them to make almond and basil pesto – just as good as pine nuts – and biscuits. We also roast the almonds and eat them with the local cheese.
1.7 million tons of almonds are produced every year around the world. Spain is the second largest producer after the US. Andalucia – especially La Axarquia and Valencia region – produces most of them.
So, what to do with the leftover husks and shells? It seems that we should get a herd of dairy cows – it’s good roughage and they aid milk production (the shells are also used for fuel or as wood chips).
White blossom produces sweet almonds and pink blossom, bitter – but beware, they contain cyanide!
“There’s a smell of peach blossom and bitter almond”
© con jamón spain