Growing Almond Tree: Information On The Care Of Almond Trees
Almonds are a type of nut which belong to the family Cucurbitaceae (Cherry, Plum, Apricot) . They have been cultivated since ancient times and were first introduced into Europe from North Africa during the Roman Empire era. Today almonds are grown all over the world including India, China, Australia and other countries like USA and Canada.
The name ‘almond’ comes from the Arabic word al-mahfahr meaning “a small piece of wood”. The nuts are actually cones or fruits and they contain a very high amount of nutrients. A single almond contains around 20% protein, 15% fat, 25% carbohydrates and 10% vitamins A, B1, B2 and C. They are also rich in minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.
The nuts are not only good sources of nutrition but also provide many health benefits. One of these benefits is their anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that almonds may reduce inflammation in various organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys. There is evidence that suggests that eating almonds might lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The seeds are also high in fiber and antioxidants which could help prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus.
Eating just a handful of almonds every day could help you maintain a healthy weight and a nutritious diet. They also contain copper, manganese, phosphorus, zinc and magnesium which are all essential for good health. All these benefits make almonds one of the healthiest nuts in the world.
The almond tree grows best in warm and dry conditions. It can grow in a wide range of soil types as long as it has good drainage. The trees can be damaged if there is too much water around the roots. They also die if they are submerged under water for a long period of time. The trees can grow in zones 3-10 and they should be spaced about 10-20 feet away from other trees.
The trees start to flower in February and March and the flowers bloom until May or June. The flowers develop into fruits which ripen from August to September. The trees normally start producing fruit in their third year but the quantity will be low. The trees reach their peak production in the fifth or sixth year and can produce up to 500 pounds of almonds per year.
The fruits are green when they are immature and start to turn a metallic gray-blue color when they are mature. The best time to pick them is before they start to fall from the trees because once they hit the ground they quickly become unusable. The fruits are harvested using a wide range of machinery. The farm workers also pick the fallen fruits from the ground by hand.
The trees need a certain number of chill hours to flower properly. If there aren’t enough chill hours then they might produce some nuts but there will be a lot of blank nuts which don’t develop. The ideal climate conditions for the trees are between 600 and 800 hours.
Almonds need to be processed as soon as possible after they are picked because if left for a long time, they start to develop a mildew called “black spot” or marcona. To prevent this from happening the workers have to remove the fruits, shell them and dry the kernels quickly.
In order to remove the shells from the nuts, first of all they are put into hot water. As the water cools down, the shells start to crack and become easier to remove. Then the nuts are put into a centrifuge which separates the kernels from the shells completely.
The kernels are then dried using a combination of machinery and sun drying. Once dry they can be stored for up to 18 months if kept in dry conditions.
Almonds are available all year round but the quality can vary quite significantly. To get the best quality nuts, it is always best to buy them from a quality store or online.
Almond oil is another popular product. It is made from the almond kernels that have been steeped in hot water and mechanically pressed to filter out the oil. This can be done in two ways: the traditional method and the modern method. In the traditional method, the oil is left unrefined and has a greenish color because of its content of chlorophyll. It also has a strong taste and smell which some people like and others don’t.
The modern method involves bleaching the oil and deodorizing it which makes it taste and smell neutral and generally preferred.
Almond oil is mainly used in the food industry as a cooking oil but also in soaps, toothpaste and shaving creams.
Almond in cooking
Almonds are popular ingredients in many desserts including cakes and biscuits and are also used extensively in Indian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.
Almond oil is mainly used as a cooking oil but also in perfumes, soaps, shaving creams and other toiletries.
Almond milk is made by grinding almonds to a paste and pressing water out of it. The result is a white liquid which can be drunk or used in cooking.
Almonds can be eaten as they are as a snack food. They also feature in many desserts either whole or in paste form. Marzipan is popular in Europe and the USA. It is made from ground almonds and sugar and can be molded into different shapes before being painted with egg white to give it a nice finish. It’s mainly used in cakes and biscuits but also on its own as a snack.
In India, almonds and cashews are often found in biscuits, sweets and other desserts.
Almond oil is used in cooking, cosmetics and soap making industries. It is obtained from the almond nuts by a process of extraction using solvents.
The solvents are subsequently removed to yield pure oil which has sweet smell. This oil containsEssential Fatty Acids, proteins, Vitamin A and E, linoleic acid etc.
Almond oil is non-greasy and hence used as a substitute for olive oil in balms, ointments etc. It has excellent moisturizing properties and hence used in the manufacture of skin creams, lotions and sunscreens.
It is used as a carrier oil in aromatherapy. It is also used in making soaps.
Buying Almonds: When buying almonds, make sure they are fresh. The skin should be smooth and uniform in color and free from spots. They should not have any unpleasant smell.
Storing: Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place. The shelf life is around 9-12 months.
Cooking: Almonds can be eaten as they are or used in cooking sweet or savory dishes. They are generally soaked in water for 8-12 hours before use to make them soft and get rid of the bitter flavor. They are an important ingredient in many desserts like macaroons, cakes, pastries and biscuits.
Almond Milk: To make almond milk soak 1 cup of almonds in water for 6-8 hours. Then blend the almonds with 4 cups water until you get a fine paste. Strain the paste to remove any bits of almond skin left behind. Use only the liquid and use in cooking or drinking as you would normal milk.
Almond Oil: The oil obtained from almonds is commonly known as sweet almond oil. It has a delicate, sweet aroma and is often used in the manufacture of cosmetics and perfumes. It is also used as a cooking oil but it is highly absorbent and hence, should be used sparingly.
Indian sweets are famous all over the world and one of the most popular ones is called “Barfi”. It is made by cooking together powdered jaggery and Khoa (sticky wheat flour). Almonds are often added to barfi and hence it is also called “badam barfi”. However, quite often, the almonds used are not fresh and are of inferior quality. This is because of the high price of good quality almonds.
Khoya and badam barfi are two popular desserts of Indian origin.
Khoya is made by boiling mawa (milk solids) and then shaping it into small blocks. It has a light caramel flavor and a faint smell of milk. It is used to make many Indian desserts like rasmalai, gulab jamun etc.
When combined with chopped almonds it makes a very popular dessert called badam barfi. The sweet has a light brown color and a delicate flavor. Badam barfis are often made in round flat shapes and packed in transparent wrappers. They can be preserved for a few weeks if kept in a dry place.
This is a very popular sweet in the Indian sub-continent. It is made from milk solids (khoya) and has a rich flavor of roasted milk. It is often combined with chopped or slivered almonds and other nuts like pistachios, cashews and hazelnuts. The mixture is then shaped into bars or small cubes. This sweet has high calorie content and is very rich and filling.
It should be eaten in moderation.
Caramelized Milk: Caramelized milk is milk that has been cooked in water and sugar. It is allowed to simmer until the volume is reduced by half and the flavor is concentrated. It develops a rich brown color and a delicious taste. The preparation of this sweet requires patience and attention. If the milk boils over while cooking, it may burn and become bitter.
This should be watched carefully and taken off the heat immediately if this happens.
Caramelized milk is often used in Indian cuisine in many desserts. It adds a delicious flavor and brown color to the food.
Though traditionally prepared at home, it is available in the market in small squares of two types: Regular and condensed. Both need to be soaked in water before use.
The regular version is made by boiling down whole milk until it becomes one fifth of its original volume. The condensed milk is made from whole milk from which half the water has been removed.
This is a sweet snack made of fried puris (puffed-up fried breads) with a stuffing of sweetened mashed bananas and nuts. The combination is then immersed in honey.
It is a specialty of the Indian city of Allahabad. The puris are made by soaking puri flour in water and then gently poking your finger into the dough to create a small hole in the middle. The hole will become the fried puri and it will puff up when fried.
The filling is made by cooking mashed bananas with sugar and nuts. The banana-nut mixture is then stuffed into the fried puris and finally dipped into hot honey to coat.
This is a rich spicy sweet dish made with milk and dry-roasted cashew nuts. It is flavored with cardamom and other spices and preserved with sugar.
Dry-roasting is a dry heat cooking technique that involves heating the food without any liquid at high temperatures.
This is a special version of kheer made in Punjab. While preparing the normal kheer, wheat is boiled with the milk before adding the rice, sugar and any other spices. This gives the sweet a distinctive chewy texture.
Kheer prepared with wheat and rice is very nutritious. The wheat adds protein and fiber and the rice provides energy.
This is a special type of milk-based sweet which is made by cooking rice in milk and then thickening it with sugar before adding any other desired spices.
This dish is believed to have originated in the city of Amritsar. The best guess for the origins of the name is that it comes from the word ‘kishmish’ meaning raisin because the sweet is traditionally made with currants.
However, in modern times it is made with a wide variety of dried fruits. Some even use chopped fresh fruit.
It is a rich dessert made from milk and fresh vermicelli (very thin pasta) which is then flavored with cardamom and saffron. Sometimes other flavorful ingredients such as almonds, pistachios and rose water are added to enrich the taste.
This sweet dish is made from milk that is boiled until it becomes thick. Sugar is then added to sweeten it and numerous other flavorings such as cardamom, saffron and rose water.
The cooking time takes a few hours because the milk needs to be continuously stirred for it to thicken.
This is a popular dessert enjoyed all over northern India. The sweet is made by cooking milk until it thickens and then adding sugar and other ingredients such as nuts, raisins, chopped fresh fruit or spices such as cardamom.
The mix is then poured into square molds and chilled before being served.
It is a yogurt-based sweet dish which is made by cooking fresh yogurt with sugar and aromatic spices. In the original version of the sweet, no other ingredients are added such as nuts or chopped fruit; however, in modern times various versions have evolved using chopped fruits or nuts to add additional flavor and texture.
“Kheer” is the Hindi word for “sweet rice pudding.” It is a traditional dessert enjoyed all over India.
The milk is boiled until it thickens and then it is flavored with cardamom, nutmeg and other spices before being sweetened with sugar. Other additions such as chopped fruit are sometimes made as well.
This rich sweet dish is associated with the city of Hyderabad which was ruled by the Tipu Sultan in the 18th century.
The sweet is made by cooking milk until it thickens and then adding sugar and flavorings such as cardamom, rose water and saffron to it. The mixture is then poured into a square mold, chilled and then cut into squares.
Sources & references used in this article:
Remote management of deficit irrigation in almond trees based on maximum daily trunk shrinkage. Water relations and yield by P Puerto, R Domingo, R Torres, A Pérez-Pastor… – … water management, 2013 – Elsevier
Establishment of apricot and almond trees using soil mulching with transparent (solarization) and black polyethylene film: effects on Verticillium wilt and tree health by JJ Stapleton, EJ Paplomatas, RJ Wakeman… – Plant …, 1993 – Wiley Online Library
Daily and seasonal patterns of leaf water relations and gas exchange of regulated deficit-irrigated almond trees under semiarid conditions by P Romero, P Botía – Environmental and Experimental Botany, 2006 – Elsevier