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Ferranti Almonds

On February 10th every year, without fail and regardless of snow, rain or shine a truly magical act of nature takes place in the Ferranti olive groves of Catalan, the almond trees blossom.

Almost overnight the almonds prepare to share their beauty with the misty dawns and the chilly sunsets of late winter. The deep pinks and snowy whites of the rich almond blossoms surround the silvery leaves of the olives trees. The air is infused with the fragrant, delicate scent of the almond flowers.

At Ferranti we have some 1000 almond trees inter-planted throughout the olive groves, Valencia and the sweet Marcona are two varieties we grow.

Four weeks after flowering new almond nuts the size of thumbnails appear in bright green clusters, and rapidly increase in size as the warmer weather approaches. The almonds are irrigated along with the olives through the hot summer months, which is vital to ensure perfect, fully flavoured nuts. Without irrigation a large percentage of the almonds would dry out, what we call 'tight skinned' which are nor palatable or marketable.

The almonds are hand picked as soon as their outer velvety husks start to split. The Marcona are the first to be picked in late August and the Valencia in early September, each variety being kept separate. The husks are removed by hand and the nuts are then laid out on nets to dry in the sun, turning each net daily for a period of four days.

Nutrition and Health

Ounce for ounce, almonds are one of the most nutritionally dense nuts. As well as providing an array of powerful flavonoids, almonds are among the richest sources of vitamin E in the diet. A one-ounce, 164-calorie serving of almonds, about a handful, is also a very good source of manganese, magnesium, copper, vitamin B2 and phosphorous, and delivers a heart healthy monounsaturated fat and other nutrients as well.

Almonds are an ancient food that has been written about in historical texts, including the Bible. The Romans referred to almonds as the 'Greek Nut' in reference to the civilization suggested to have first cultivated them. Almonds are now grown in many of the countries that boarder the Mediterranean Sea including Spain, Italy, Portugal and Morocco.

How to enjoy Almonds

Almonds that are still in their shells have the longest shelf life.

Refrigerated shelled almonds will keep for several months, while if stored in a freezer, almonds can keep for up to a year.

In addition to being eaten raw, almonds are a wonderful addition to a variety of recipes from salads to baked goods. Along with other nuts, is often sprinkled over desserts, particularly ice cream dishes.

Whole almonds can be chopped by hand or can be placed in the food processor. If using a food processor it is best to pulse on and of a few times, instead of running the blade constantly, as this will help ensure that you end up with chopped almonds rather than almond butter.

If you want to remove the almond skin, blanch them for a few minutes until you notice the almond skin beginning to swell. Drain them and then rinse them under cold water. Pinch the cooled almonds between your thumb and index finger and the skin should slide right off the almond meat.