The almond tree

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The Almond tree

 The Almond tree 

 

The almond tree is a member of the Rosaceae family, deciduous and bare in the autumn/ winter.

As a species, the almond tree (Prunus dulcis) is a close relative of the peach, plum and cherry.

Almonds most likely originated in the Middle East, from where they spread to other parts of the world.

In botanical terms, the fruit of the almond tree is not a nut, but a drupe (seed) 20-35 cm long composed of a green-grey thick external leathery coat, and an inner reticulated hard and woody shell in which the seed is found (“the nut”).

The almond tree is deciduous and needs cold spells in order to ‘awaken’ from its winter hibernation. The greater the number of cold spells, the higher the yield.

With the advent of spring, the blossoming of the almond tree is magnificent, and these resplendent trees in full bloom herald the beginning of the growth cycle of the Israeli almond.

The fruit – the drupe is elongated or flattened, covered in lone hairs, and its green coat splits the length of it after which the kernel is released containing the seed, the edible part of the almond.

Around the world, almonds are cultivated in regions characterized in Mediterranean growing conditions. California is the world’s main growing region,  growing is also conducted in South Africa, Australia, Chile and the Mediterranean Basin.

In Israel, commercial growing is common primarily in the Galilee, the Jezre’el Valley and the Golan Heights.

The Mediterranean Basin is the ideal habitat for growing almonds. A regulated climate, light winter and wonderful weather conditions have facilitated safe growing of choice fruits since ancient times.

  • From November to February, the almond tree is bare and in hibernation.

After the wet period and cold spells have receded, buds can be observed, attesting to the awakening that presages the flowering.

  • The flowering of the almond tree starts in early February and peaks in March. At that time the orchards are covered in glorious pink-white blossoms. Walking through the orchards in this season is to experience nature in all its glory. After the flowering, the trees develop leafy foliage and turn green

The almond tree is pollinated by bees; only pollinated flowers bear the almond fruit. Most varieties are not self-pollinating, so that a commercial almond orchard needs pollinating varieties nearby.

  • The fruit emerges from March and begins to grow, reaching its maximum size in June.
  • At that stage, as the heat intensifies in the months of July and August, the fruit ripens fully, the drupe splits open and the orchard prepares for the harvest. The harvesting involves fully mechanized shaking of the trees.   Over the years, the industry has developed and added innovative mechanization methods that preserve the properties of the almond fruit to the maximum extent.

Following the harvest, the almonds are subjected to a week of natural drying, and are then transferred to the cracking center.

  • Cracking centers provide the following services: cleaning the fruit of all the orchard residues, stripping, cracking, sorting and packaging of the almonds to preserve their shelf life, all under optimal conditions.
  • The almonds are vacuum packed, guaranteeing their enduring freshness and quality. This is achieved using some of most advanced agricultural technology in the world, with rigorous preservation of the nutritional value of the almonds.

“Take of the best fruits in the land…
a little balm and a little honey, gum,
ladanum, nuts and almonds”

(Genesis 43:11)

Forms and uses

Almonds are used extensively in food and beverages, as well as in cosmetics and folk and vegan remedies Fresh, natural or processed. Sliced, ground, cold pressed or refined. Below is a partial list of forms and uses:

  • Whole – with a shell, Natural  or Roasted
  • Whole – with shelled, Natural or Blanched
  • Slices of Flakes – Natural or Blanched as topping for salads, ingredient for cereal, garnishing for baked goods and desserts
  • Dice or Chopped –  Natural or Blanched as topping for dairy items, baked goods, stuffing and coatings like ice cream bars.
  • Filling for bakery, confectionery
  • Meal or Flour – Natural or Blanched as sauce thickener,  for making almond butter or marzipan,  filling for confectionery
  • Roasted and salted – ‘king’ of the nuts and seeds.
  • Paste and Butter – the first food that babies eat when adjusting to solid food, and also leveraged to enrich cooked dishes and pastries
  • As a natural, filling and rich snack
  • Energy snack – sweet or salty, as an important source of daily added energy, after sports activities or in-between meals.
  • Almonds as an ingredient in every serving and in every meal: utilization of almonds in different forms has become widespread. In baking, cooking, salads, soups and side dishes. Almonds are effectively present in every one of the festive and everyday servings and meals. As an enriching or garnishing ingredient, natural or lightly roasted.
  • An important ingredient in the confectionery tradition of Western Europe. The Austrian cuisine employs almond flour and almond cream in cakes and cake/ cookie pastries. The French enhance the butter croissant with almond cream, while Sicilians are proud of their marzipan made from local almonds.
  • Moroccan cuisine employs ground almond (with argan oil and honey added) as a spread.
  • Almond flour: enriches baking and adopted by those who avoid gluten
  • Green Almonds – Some take advantage of the initial spring ripening, when the hull is still green and bit able and the seed has not yet ripened (a semi-solid texture), to consume green almonds as a snack with salt, or as an ingredient in salads or cooked dishes.
  • An almond drink as a vegan substitute to liquid milk
  • Almond oil for salads or cooking (as an alternative to olive oil or nut oil)
  • Rosette – an almond drink generally served at celebrations
  • Amaretto – an almond liquor (usually bitter)
  • Cosmetics Almond Oil – the benefits of mineral and vitamin rich almonds serve to nourish the skin and scalp. Almond oil is applied in body massages, while almond essence is harnessed in the soap, shampoo and lotion industry.

The benefits of  Israeli almonds

Israeli almonds are a super-food. Highly Nutritious,  Probiotic, and rich with  high Protein and dietary fiber content

The benefits of Israeli almonds

Assists in reducing
Cholesterol

Helps prevent
heart diseases

Rich in vitamins
And dietary fiber

Ideal for integration
In the weight loss menu

 

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