We consume it every now and then, – some even daily, we eat it raw, roasted, salty, put it on top of our granola, eat it in form of butter, or even drink it in our coffee… THE ALMOND.
I personally love almonds and it is my number one go-to nutritious snack since I can remember. Truthfully speaking tho, little did I know about how this cracking, yummy nut actually comes into existence. Where does the almond come from? And where exactly does it grow? All these questions and much more you are going to be amazed by, is being answered in today’s blog post! I had the tremendous pleasure of attending the almond bloom tour 2019 in California, where I learned everything about how almonds are responsibly grown.
California is one of the worlds best regions to grow almond trees because of its very unique and Mediterranean climate. The annual almond life cycle has many different stages including an astounding natural beauty… From tree to table in 8 steps. But lets start from the very beginning…
The California Almond community is driven by family farmers and processors. Which we had the great pleasure of meeting… We visited a family farmer and got to stand right in the middle of their amazing almond orchard and we even got the chance to talk to a almond processor. Over 90% of these farmers and processors are family farms, many owned and operated by third- and fourth-generation farmers which I think is just wonderful. That mentioned beforehand – I’d love to take the time now and explain you more about the actual almond lifecycle …
There is a so called DOWNTIME, – from November until January almond trees go through a period of hibernation, losing all of their leaves. While orchard soils store up rainwater for the upcoming growing season the trees store nutrients & energy for next year’s crop. It’s pretty complex but very fascinating if you ask me… Toward the end of dormancy the buds begin swelling on each tree’s branches in preparation for bloom.
Bloom, – the word itself says it all. Between mid-February & mid-March the almond tree buds burst into the most beautiful white/light pink/pink blossoms. It is something I will never forget, standing in the middle of hundreds of almond trees and experiencing the abundance of natural beauty was simply breathtaking. The smell kinda like an aphrodisiac! Mind blowing!
Now, if the bloom itself wasn’t just fascinating enough, – another interesting part I learned was, that bees are truly essential for almonds and almonds to bees. Every almond you eat, only exists because a honey
The growing up period is from March to June. Almond kernels mature and grow to full green size which can be harvested already for various culinary uses. Only a month later in July, these green almonds turn into a straw-yellow color and the almond hulls split open – allowing the kernel inside to dry.
Harvest tatatataaaaaaaaaa… kind like deserves its very own topic. It’s truly fascinating ( I think I said fascinating like a million times already, but it truly is) how from August through October so called ” tree – shakers” harvest the almond trees by shaking them to the ground – where they dry naturally in the warm Californian sun and a harvester vacuums the nuts that brings them to the edge of the orchard in transportation for their next stop. There are a variety of almonds, which are harvested separately.
Which brings us directly to step number 6 – Shelling and Sizing. Which is another very important step in the almond industry. After harvest, almonds go to a huller, – sheller facility where the kernels pass through a roller to remove the hull, shell and any debris from the orchard, such as sticks and rocks. We’ve visited such sheller facility and it was so educational and interesting to see all that with my own eyes. What I loved the most, is that Almond farmers practice a zero waste approach, – ensuring everything an orchard produces is put to use… But more on that later on.
On to step number seven, which is storage and almond delivery. After sizing, almonds are kept in controlled storage conditions to maintain quality until they’re either shipped or further processed. California Almonds make their way to almond lovers in over 90 countries worldwide. Crazy right?!
And last but not least. The enjoyable almond. From whole almonds to blanched, sliced, diced, used in butter, as well as almond flour, paste, oil, milk and more as mentioned above, – almonds are just incredibly versatile and you will do yourself a favor if you eat them everyday as their super beneficial for your health.
As we know everything about the almond life-cycle now, lets get to some facts that you should know!
How great is that only a handful of almonds (approx. 23 almonds or 28g) are packed with 60% of your daily dose of vitamin E and are a high source of magnesium & zinc. I always make sure to pack a “snack-pack”, so I know I’m covered with healthy, nutrient rich food wherever I go.
- 28g amount per serving. – Calories 160
- Total Fat: 14g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
- Sodium: 0mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 6g
- Dieter Fiber: 4g
- Protein: 6g
… another huge theme when it comes to almond farming, and so, so important – thats why I’d like to talk about two more things here.
It has been quite a subject because it has been reported by the media that almonds take a lot of water in order to grow. Research has even shown that almond trees, and the water needed to grow them are in line with other California fruit and nut trees*. But farmers have reduced the But farmers have reduced the amount of water needed to grow a pound of almonds by 33 percent. By 2025, the California almond community commits to reduce the amount of water by an additional 20 percent.
*Larry Schwankl, et al. Understanding your Orchard’s Water Requirements. University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Publication 8212. Feb. 2010.
Another great thing about the almond, – almond orchards grow not only the nutritious almonds we eat, but also hulls, shells and trees that are put to good use. The so called – COPRODUCTS. It’s amazing to see how the industry is making sure that almond coproducts are put to good use. Besides almond oil for the beauty industry – you can find care tyres made from almond material, or even fertilizers that are used to grow mushrooms that include almond shells – it’s all about sustainability and achieving zero waste.
It is pretty easy, California almond farmers and processors have always been on top of getting the most out of the resources used to grow almonds and ensuring they’re put to beneficial use rather than sent to landfill. By 2025, the California almond community commits to achieve zero waste in our orchards by putting everything we grow to optimal use. Pretty perfect if you’d ask me!
Lastly you guys, I can just tell you that I’ve been absolutely amazed by the almond bloom tour 2019… Not only did I get to know great people during this amazing trip, more so – I learned so much about so many aspects which I am very grateful for. In all honesty, the entire trip made me even more aware of the planet and it was just so educational what I learned about the almond. We should never ever take anything for granted. Not our planet – nor a tiny, yummy, cracking, nutritious nut. The work, sweat, love, empathy & most of all time, – that it takes to get this little nut from tree to table is tremendous. So next time you have an almond in your hand or are about to eat on your almond butter, remember the steps it takes so hat you can so freely enjoy your beloved almond. Appreciate it and cherish it! Enjoy it to the fullest, because almonds are really number one.
*Paid partnership with California Almonds.