Facts and Information about the Almond Tree
The almond tree, scientifically known as Prunus dulcis, is a type of tree that is native to South Asia and the Middle East. It is in the Rosaceae family and this tree produces almonds, a type of edible seed or nut. It thrives in a Mediterranean climate and while it is native to two primary areas, close to 80 percent of the almonds produced throughout the world are produced in California. In California, over 25 different types are produced, but the Valencia and Marcona types are produced in Spain and Greece imports the ferragnes type almonds.
Sweet vs. Bitter Almonds
The two types of almonds produced by almond trees include bitter almonds and sweet almonds. The sweet almonds are the type most people are familiar with and they are used for cooking, and come in cans and bottles for individual consumption. This type of almond may also be used to produce almond oil. Bitter almonds are most commonly used for manufacturing liqueur and food flavoring extracts. Prior to making the extracts, the prussic acid is removed.
The chemical composition in the two types of almonds is very similar because both have 35 to 55 percent fixed oil and they contain emulsin, a type of enzyme. Sweet almonds only have trace amounts of amygdalin, while this is more plentiful in bitter almonds. Both types of almonds have a high protein content, and they also contain smaller amounts of other important nutrients, including iron, phosphorus, B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium and vitamin A.
How Almonds Are Consumed Throughout the World
Almonds are a popular staple in many cultures and they may be consumed blanched, raw or roasted, or they may be used as a component in confectionery baking. Almonds are the primary ingredient in a sweet paste known as marzipan in Europe. This paste is used to make a variety of candies and pastries. To add flavor to fish, poultry and vegetables, those in Asia often cook with fresh almonds. In the United States, almonds are common in baking, fresh salads and as a snack.
Almond Tree Botanical Information
The almond tree has a hardy dormancy and it is considered to be a deciduous tree. The average height for this tree is 10 to 15 feet. The flowers on this tree are fragrant, striking, range from white to light pink and they contain five petals. North of the equator, the blooms occur from the end of January to the beginning of April. The fruit that grows looks very similar to a peach in the early stages, but the hull curls outward, splits open and discharges the pit as it ripens. Almonds are considered to be a type of nut, but in the interest of accuracy, they are actually seeds that have a really hard fruit covering.
Almond Cultivation Information
If frosts occur during the flowering part of the growth cycle, it is uncertain whether or not almonds will survive so it is best to cultivate the almond tree in favorable regions. Modern almond growing techniques often involve industrial processes to quickly harvest almonds on massive orchards. There are tree shakers that are mechanized to help quickly harvest the nuts. To keep the trees well-pollinated during the flowering season, many almond tree orchards will bring in honeybees to make sure there are enough of them.
Whether you prefer sweet or bitter almonds, these are easy to find throughout the world. The almonds can be used for many different things, from cuisine to skincare. Just make sure to always use high-quality almonds that are fresh for the best taste and maximum health benefits.