About AlmondsMany people believe that the almond is a nut, when in all actuality it is a drupe (which is technically a type of fruit). The English word
almond is derived from the French amande,
which in turn is a
derivative of the old Latin word for almond amygdalus meaning "tonsil
The almond tree is a
deciduous tree which can grow as high as 10 meters. The leaves of the
almond tree are broad and serrated, and the sprouting flowers seen in
early spring are either white or pale pink. By the time autumn comes
(some 7-8 months after flowering), the almond is mature, ripe, and ready
to be harvested.
Almond trees become productive and begin bearing fruit after five years.
The fruit is mature in the autumn, 7–8 months after flowering.
Global production of raw almonds is around 1.7 million tonnes, with a low
of 1 million tonnes in 1995 and a peak of 1.85 million tonnes in 2002
according to Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) figures; world production of almonds was 1.76
million tonnes in 2006. According to the FAO, major producers are the USA (715623 t, 41%),
Spain (220000 t, 13%), Syria (119648 t, 7%), Italy (112796 t, 6%), Iran
(108677 t, 6%) and Morocco (83000 t, 5%). Algeria, Tunisia and Greece
each account for 3%, Turkey, Lebanon and China each account for 2%. In Turkey,
most of the production comes from the Datça Peninsula. In Spain, numerous commercial cultivars
of sweet almond are produced, most notably the Jordan almond (imported
and the Valencia
In the United States, production is concentrated in California,
with California almonds being the states third leading agricultural product and
its top agricultural export in 2008. California produces 80% of the
world’s almonds and 100% of the U.S. commercial supply. California exported almonds
valued at 1.08 billion dollars in 2003, about 70% of total California
almond crop.Almond Consumption
Many times, almonds are toasted before eating; other times they are simply eaten raw. However, there are a wide variety of culinary uses for raw almonds, as well. It is most commonly sprinkled on ice cream sundaes or other desserts such as marzipan, French macaroons, and even more. Almonds can even be processed into "almond milk", which is ideal for vegans and those that are lactose-intolerant, and the drupe can be used to produce "almond syrup". Additionally, the oil of sweet almonds may even be used as a substitute for olive oil.
To complement its wide variety of uses, raw almonds also have a great deal of nutritional value, too. A handful of almonds (28 grams/one recommended serving) are enough to provide the human body with high levels of Vitamin E, magnesium, and fiber, apart from being a great source of monounsaturated fat, protein, potassium, and even calcium.