Almond trees bloom in January and February, at the end of winter, before the appearance of leaves. Their beautiful blossoms can normally be enjoyed for two or three weeks. The blossoms are big and white or pinkish in colour and resemble cherry or peach tree blossoms. Almond trees can live and bear fruit for up to 130 years.
Almonds are usually grouped together with nuts, but the tree itself produces stone fruit, which contains a seed with a strong skin.
Almonds are a healthy and beneficial snack for everyone. They are rich in nutrients and contain healthy fatty acids. The protein content of almonds is up to 20% and they are also a good source of potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin E. The useful substances in almonds boost the immune system’s ability to resist pathogens. The substances found in the brownish top layer of almonds are particularly useful, which is why it is best to opt for unpeeled almonds.
Almonds can also be used in making a wide variety of dishes. Almond flour is a good replacement for wheat flour when baking, and it can also be added to porridges or smoothies. Marzipan is made from almond mass. Almond milk is a good substitute for cow’s milk, as its calcium is absorbed more easily by the body thanks to the magnesium it contains.
Almonds are harvested by hand at Hacienda el Lince. The almond trees are strongly shaken so that the fruit fall into the nets spread under the trees, or else the almonds are picked straight from the tree. After harvesting, the soft, greenish peel is removed from the almonds using a special machine. Next, the strong almond peel has to be opened up in order to reach the valuable core of the almond.
Over a hundred different kinds of almonds are grown in Spain, but the five main types that are considered to be of the highest quality are the Marcona, Largueta, Planeta, Comuna (a.k.a. Valencia) and Mallorca almonds. Three of these five kinds come from Spain: Marcona, Largueta and Planeta. Marcona almonds are the most highly valued Spanish almonds, as their oil content is high, they are juicy and they have a very intense taste.