October 12, 2016

First Almond Harvest

Firsts on a homestead are always exciting. This year's first was our first real almond harvest.

1st sampling of homegrown almonds

We planted an All-In-One almond tree in December 2009. It's given us beautiful blooms for a number of years now.

It blooms in March (when this photo was taken)

Hall's Almond trees are more commonly planted, but the All-In-One was described as soft shelled and heat tolerant. Heat tolerant is always a plus in my part of the country. Considering how hot and dry our summer was, I'd say it has performed as advertised.

Of almonds, it's only given us a handful or so in the past, but this year I picked up a bucketful.


Since this was a first harvest I had to look up the particulars of harvesting, processing, and storage. My The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food says to harvest when the hulls are splitting on the nuts growing on the inner branches of the tree. These are the last to ripen, so it serves as an indicator of when they're ready. Mine were falling to the ground, some with split hulls and some with intact hulls.

The book said to remove the hulls immediately. This is so the nutmeat can dry properly. I hulled the ones I could, but many of the hulls were too hard to remove. I spread them out on an old sheet under one of the pecan trees, wondering if the hulls would split as the nuts dried. They did not. I reckoned this because we had a wet muddy winter followed by a hot dry summer; the harvest wasn't being textbook.

Then last weekend Hurricane Matthew gave us a gift of a quarter-inch of rain. Not as much as we needed, but enough to soften many of the hulls so that I could remove them.


I spread them out to dry, but not until we sampled a few.


The shells seem hard compared to pecans, but my nut cracker split them right open. The driest ones were easiest to crack.

According to UC Davis almonds can be stored in the shell for eight months at room temperature (which they say is 68°F / 20.0°C, and to which I say, "Ha ha, try room temperature during one of my summers"), and for a year or more in the fridge. Shelled almonds can be frozen and retain good quality for over a year.

It will take awhile to crack all of them so I'm not sure how many we'll end up with, but I guarantee every one will go to good use.

24 comments:

  1. Exciting to see those long range plans, literally, bearing fruit! At this rate you'll have to come up with a whole new list of projects, goals and wishes for your list. :)

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    1. Ha! The project list goes on and on and on, LOL.

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  2. I need to grow almonds. I buy them all the time, they are my favorite snack. I'm very jealous, but happy you got your first crop Have a wonderful day.

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    1. They are a bit labor intensive to hull and shell by hand, but a really nice addition to our food sources. Tasty and beautiful, who could ask for more!

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  3. You're so lucky! When I was growing up my mum had two trees but cut them down because they attracted too many cockatoos to our yard and we never ended up with any almonds for ourselves :(

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    1. Cockatoos! We don't have those but I totally understand about battling critters for fruit and nuts. Some years I'm amazed we get any figs and pecans at all, thanks to the birds and squirrels.

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  4. Now that is really exciting! We were thinking of walnuts but not almonds. What a gorgeous sight, your bucket of Almonds!

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    1. A walnut tree! English or Black? I'm trying to get some chestnut trees established, but my success rate is only 50/50 so far. I should look into walnuts too.

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  5. This is great news Leigh. I've been thinking about planting almonds along w/some more pecans this winter. Thanks for the info, I'll look into the all in one variety as we are hot & humid here as well. Glad you finally got a good harvest!

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    1. It's wonderful having nut trees, especially once they start producing. Our pecan trees were already here so we've been harvesting from them since we bought the place. There's quite a bit of competition with the squirrels, however, but we get enough. We've had no predator problems with the almonds, although I read that scrub jays feast on almonds. No scrub jays though, so we're doing okay there

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  6. I think almonds are like strawberries - you can't have too many of them:) esp. as almonds have gone up so much in price on the market! over here almonds wouldn't work, it's not warm enough to give us any, so we stick to hazelnuts instead. but they have a very distinct taste that doesn't go with everything in contrast to almonds, which are so mild that you can use them for anything. almond butter, yummeh:) if you have "too many", you can always put some into pesto instead of pine nuts.... enjoy your pickings, even though the shelling seems to be a lot of work!

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    1. What growing zone are you in Bettina? Almond trees are hardy to zone 5, or so I read. I have hazelnuts trying to grow too, but I think they're getting too much shade.

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    2. it's not the frost hardiness that worries me - but our very cool summers don't let nectarines/almonds/apricots etc. set fruit. I know that the blossoms are gorgeous - but there's not much point in planting almonds just for that:) hazelnuts are tough shrubs - but they might not make many nuts if they are fairly shaded...



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    3. Ah, I see. I wouldn't plant anything just for show either. You've got me thinking that I should try to move the hazelnut shrubs this winter. Maybe they'll do better with more sun.

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  7. I love almonds! What a great harvest it looks to be, and I am glad Matthew didn't wreak havoc with you. Here's to a winter of nutty treats!

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    1. I just hope this is the beginning of many almonds to come!

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  8. huh! I have never seen the blooms of an almond tree or the nuts off one. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. The flowers are beautiful, aren't they? Some folks use the trees as ornamentals just for that.

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    1. Janet! How lovely to hear from you. Are you still blogging?

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  10. I want an almond tree...but the squirrels would go to town on it. :-/

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    1. It's funny, but the squirrels haven't touched the almonds, and we have a ton of squirrels. They don't bother with the acorns either, they zero in on the pecans. :(

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  11. We don't have almonds this far north but we do have walnuts. We remove the husk by spreading them out in the wheel tracks right before the garage and drive over them throughout a week. Usually by the end of the week we can pick the nuts out which we then crack during the winter hours in front of the fire. We have a couple dogs to keep the squirrels away while we are doing the driving over them.

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    1. Ed, that's a great idea! We may try that. Dan harvested another gallon of almonds this afternoon, so we have plenty to experiment with.

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