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Almond Tree Growing Facts and Enjoying Almonds for the Holidays

Updated on November 26, 2012
Almonds in Hulls
Almonds in Hulls | Source

Growing Almonds

Almond trees are relatives of both the plum and the peach, growing from 15 to 30 feet tall with branches just as wide. They will begin bearing nuts after only a short 3 years, but you won’t get full-scale production until the tree is about 12 years old. Your tree could well outlive you, as well as produce a great deal for 50 years, if properly cared for.

Sweet almonds like low humidity and a warm growing season, which is where California does well in these requirements. It is easiest to plant seeds in the fall in well-drained soil. Squirrels will dig these up, so put a staked cage around the plantings until they are growing well. Plant your shorter trees 20 feet apart, and don’t prune unless you really need to do so, as this will hamper nut production.

Nuts will be ready to harvest in August or September. The outer hulls will split open when ripe. When most of the hulls in the mid-portion of the tree have split, strike the tree with a heavy rubber mallet. This will avoid damaging the wood and bark. Directly after harvest, shell and dry the almonds to prevent mildew. Dry the nuts in a partially shaded area and leave until the nut is crunchy. Then store in airtight containers in a cool place until ready to use.

And Now...

Now for what you have all been waiting for, the valuable recipes. Have fun with these, especially during any holiday.

Blanched Almonds
Blanched Almonds | Source

Blanched Almonds

This will allow you to get the brown skin off the nut. Pour boiling water over the nuts and let them stand 5-10 minutes, or until the skins wrinkle. Drain the water. Then slide off the skins by squeezing the nut between your fingers. If some won’t come off, do another boiling water bath, then allow them to dry when skinned.

Roasted Almonds
Roasted Almonds | Source

Roasted Almonds

Cook almonds in frying pan(blanched or unblanched), with 2 or 3 tablespoons hot oil. Stir until evenly browned, then drain. If you like, sprinkle them with salt. Nuts can also be baked in the oven at 350 degrees F for 5-12 minutes. Stir occasionally while they are baking.

Source

Toasted Almonds

Place nuts on cookie sheet in 350 degree F oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes. You could mix in a tablespoon melted butter and a teaspoon salt per pound of almonds and bake until lightly browned and crispy. Stir often. A third option is on the stovetop. First blanche, then heat butter in a small pan over low heat. Add nuts and fry for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels.

Almond Paste
Almond Paste | Source

Almond Paste

Make this a week before you need it, as the paste improves with a little storage. Grind in a mortar, a chopper, or a blender: shelled, skinned, and dried unroasted almonds. If you need to do so, run them through the grinder a few times to get them very fine. For every 2 cups almonds, dissolve a cup of sugar in ½ cup orange juice, and then mix well with almonds.

Macaroons
Macaroons | Source

Macaroons

Blanche a half pound of almonds and pound them to paste with a mortar. Even put them through a grinder several times set on fine. You can even use a blender, if you have one. Add a half pound powdered sugar and 2 stiffly beaten egg whites. Work it all together, then form balls about the size of a whole nutmeg. Bake at 250 degrees F until golden.

Macaroons with Almond Paste

Use a half pound of almond paste, and gradually add ¾ cup sugar with 3 beaten egg whites. Mix well, then add ¼ cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons flour. Place by teaspoonful onto a paper lined cookie sheet. Flatten shapes a bit. Bake at 250 to 300 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes.

Marzipan
Marzipan | Source

Marzipan

Mix a cup of almond paste, a cup powdered sugar, and ½ teaspoon vanilla or orange extract. Knead about 20 minutes, then set on a cookie rack to dry. After drying, you can shape it into any forms that you’d like, or use marzipan molds that can be purchased at kitchen specialty stores.

After drying your molded shapes at least overnight, paint them with food coloring using a small paintbrush. You can even dip them like you would an Easter egg. Allow to dry. Feel free to use accessories, like cloves for apple stems, and angelica bits can be used for leaves.

Leave the shapes covered with heavy syrup for 8 hours. To make syrup, cook 5 pounds of sugar with 2 ½ cups water to the soft ball stage, which is 234 to 240 degrees F. Remove syrup from heat and allow to cool. Add marzipan in a single layer. It is important throughout this step to avoid disturbing the syrup as much as possible. Then drain to candies and allow them to dry once again.

A Suggestion

I'm not sure if anyone would be interested, but there are recipes out there for almond puff pastry that are pretty easy to make...any takers?

© 2012 Deb Hirt

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    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 22 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks for sharing, thumbi7. Should I soak raw almonds or another kind?

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 22 months ago from India

      Interesting read. I soak almonds the previous night and we used to eat few along with breakfast

      It is believed to improve intelligence

      Voted up and shared

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 23 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      I think I'd like to be able to get the raw almond right from the source and try them. Bet they're so much better that fresh.

    • SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

      Sanjay Sharma 23 months ago from Mandi (HP) India

      Very interesting and informative hub. We generally break the almonds to get the kernels, but the boiled water technique is very useful.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      klidstone, they are so good for you, especially the raw almonds. Can't beat that flavor, eh?

    • klidstone1970 profile image

      இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу 4 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

      Mmmm now I'm hungry - the roasted almonds definitely!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks for reading, Eddy. Try the marzipan, if you have time.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Absolutely, Rebecca, I think you do need to do something, especially on the black walnut.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      So interesting and very well informed. Thanks for sharing and have a great day.

      Eddy.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      So interesting and very well informed. Thanks for sharing and have a great day.

      Eddy.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I love almonds. I have almond extract that I use for strawberry pie recipes. I don't think we have almonds growing local here, but the pecans and black walnuts are raining down on my head. Literally. You have inspired me to maybe do a 'nutty' hub, lol.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Goodness is right, Chittrangada. I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Maybe they will bear avocados before that time.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Oh, my gosh, Martin, could you imagine a computer doing that? It would be worth its weight in gold!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Melissa! MN is a little cool for the almond. Peaches are related, though.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I aim to please, Billy. Can you obtain a variety that will grow that far north?

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Nell! These are one of my favorite nuts! Marzipan, anyone?

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very nice and interesting hub. The pictures are so nice. Thanks for reminding everyone about the goodness of almonds.

    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 4 years ago from Paris via California

      To tell the whole truth, my husband is growing two avocado trees in our Paris apartment, but I don't know what will become of them when they've reached ceiling height, since they'd freeze outside!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      The only way this hub could get better is if almond treats dropped out of my computer. Thank you.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Oh, I would so love to have an almond tree! I think I'm in the wrong climate...we have apple trees, cherry trees and plum trees---but no almonds. I don't think they would like the snow very much, though...ah well, I still enjoyed seeing the recipes because we can buy almonds in bulk and now I know how to make almond paste. Great pictures too!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, I love to eat them; maybe I should consider growing them. You are very good at giving me gardening ideas.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      I would love to have an almond tree in my garden, and your nut ideas are great! the Toasted Almonds look especially delicious, voted up! nell

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Letitia! Are there any trees that you can grow where you are?

    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 4 years ago from Paris via California

      I dream of having an almond tree (& an avocado tree, a lemon tree, an olive tree, a pommegranite tree & all those other trees I could have had if I'd stayed in California, sigh). I'm bookmarking this and voting up.

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