the all-too-in-depth article about almondsHow Almonds Are Grown, Almonds Nutritional Info, Almonds Recipes, And Almonds Buying
How Almonds are Grown
The Nutty Nitty Gritty
Almonds grow on trees in orchards. LOTS of almonds are grown in each year because, according to the USDA, almonds have exploded in popularity here in the U.S.A. Back in 1970, the average American consumed just 0.25 pounds of almonds each year. Now, Americans consume an average of 1.60 pounds of almonds each year! Here at Shutt’s Nuts, we get why almonds are so popular. We’re nuts over almonds.
Let’s dig in to how almonds are grown.
The almond tree is in the same family as other stone fruits, such as cherries, plums, peaches and apricots. The average almond tree produces nuts for around 25 years, and can start producing nuts just three years after planting. Almond trees are gorgeous. Check out the pictures below. An added bonus is that the almond tree blossoms earlier than other trees each year. Bees are important to almond trees, because almond trees are not self-pollinating.
Since almonds are a stone fruit, you could debate whether or not the almond is really even a “nut.” The “nut” we eat is inside a fruit. Think of a peach pit, and we eat just the very inner part. There’s a fleshy outer (the “hull”), a shell inside the hull, and then a kernel inside the hull. That kernel is what we eat. In other words, the part we eat is the seed.
Each year in February-March, the almond trees blossom. Then, bees pollinate the flowers. From March to June, the almond fruits grow into their final sizes. Around July, the hulls of the fruit split open on the tree to reveal the inner shell.
Some time during August through October, commercial orchards employ tree shakers to vigorously shake the almonds from the trees. Once the almond fruits are on the ground, sun dries the fruits further. After about a week of time drying on the ground, commercial orchards use sweepers to pick up the almonds.
Once picked up off the ground, the almonds go to be hulled, shelled, sorted and dried in a facility. From there, the almonds get shipped out for further processing (roasters, packagers, grinders, etc.).
Did You Know?
Almond farmers can recycle the almond hulls as animal feed? Or that the shells can be used as livestock bedding? That’s a good thing because almond farmers can’t afford to waste. Those almond trees are picky, require lots of labor, and require lots of water.
Where Almonds Grow
Almonds are mostly grown in California. According to the Almond Board of California, a whopping 80% of the world’s almonds are grown in California. California is followed by Spain and Italy for almond production. California is the only American state to commercially produce almonds, due to the ideal Mediterranean climate. There are approximately 7,600 almond growers in California and around 100 almond processors. Around 30% of the world’s almonds are consumed right here in the United States.
There are approximately 50 commercial varieties of almonds, each with different sizes and taste. While California grows the most almonds, that doesn’t necessarily mean California grows the best almonds. Many believe that the Marcona almonds grown in Spain are the best. The Marcona almonds are plumper than your typical almond, and they’re typically served without the skins.
Another almond variety to try: the Pizzuta almond from Italy. According to an article in The Atlantic, “If you like almonds at all, it’s worth tasting these. They’re more intense, more almondy, more exotic than any other almond I’ve ever eaten.” According to the author, most Califonia almonds are the soft-shelled almonds (probably because they’re easiest to grow). The hard-shell almond varieties, such as the Pizzuta, are very difficult to grow and can only grow in select areas of the world. The Pizzuta is grown in Eastern Sicily. The hard-shelled almonds have a higher oil content, which gives them that intense almond flavor.
Almond NUTritional Info
These Nuts Are NUTritious
Almonds may be high in fat, but almonds are widely considered to be very healthy. In fact, in a small 1-oz. portion of almonds, you’ll get 3.5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, 37% of your daily value of Vitamin E, 19% of your daily value of Magnesium, and 32% of your daily value of Manganese. That’s just the start. Almonds are loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals.
What Makes Almonds Good for Us?
Lastly, almonds pack tons of healthy antioxidants in the brown skins.
That vitamin E helps lower the rate of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Almonds are one of (if not the) best sources of Vitamin E. The above-linked studies were all published in the National Library of Medicine, so this is not internet fluff.
Almonds also help with management of blood sugar, because they’re high in healthy fats, high in protein and high in fiber. Plus, almonds carry loads of magnesium. That magnesium helps people with insulin resistance. A deficiency in magnesium also reduces blood pressure.
Speaking of heart health, studies show that regularly eating almonds may lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad cholesterol”). At least one other published study showed that study participants lost weight, so there’s yet another health benefit of almonds. That same study showed participants who ate more almonds had smaller weight circumferences. Another study showed participants had lower appetites when their diets were supplemented with almonds.
Check out the USDA’s FoodData Central for a full list of the nutrients in almonds.
Almond Roasting Recipes
Let’s get one thing straight: What’s the difference between roasting and toasting? ROASTING is what you do in an oven and TOASTING is what you do on the stove. With almonds, you can either roast them or toast them. This The Spruce Eats webpage describes several popular methods for roasting and toasting almonds. The page even describes how to roast almonds in the microwave.
If you want to satisfy that sweet tooth of yours, indulge in these Cinnamon-Roasted Almonds from the recipe on Allrecipes.com. One popular review of this recipe suggests substituting the water with vanilla, adding 1/2 cup of brown sugar (and also recommended subbing some Splenda for sugar instead).
Here is the highest rated recipe on Allrecipes.com that features almonds. ALMOND CRUNCH! Yuuuummm. This recipe has lots of butter, sugar, chocolate and (of course!) almonds. Since the recipe has almonds, does that mean it’s a little healthy?
Salted Almonds on Amazon
Soon, we’ll post our very own review of the TOP 5 salted almonds you can buy on Amazon. While you’re waiting for that, check out the Shutt’s Nuts In-Depth Review of the TOP 5 Roasted Pecans on Amazon. The article contains links to the roasted pecans on Amazon, along with a thorough review of the top-rated roasted pecans on Amazon. We purchased the pecans ourselves, tasted them, and provided a complete review for you.
Raw Almonds on Amazon
If you’re looking for raw almonds, here are some of the best on Amazon according to star ratings and popularity:
Buy Almonds Locally, If You Can!
If you’re in California, you’re in the right place for almonds. The almond trees are gorgeous, so the trip will reward your eyes, your tastebuds, your heart and your brain! Reviewers on Tripadvisor.com loved completing a blossom tour in Fresno area.