Having experienced a kind of mini-Summer over the last fortnight here in Mallorca, the weather is expected to turn a bit colder over the next few days. There may even be snow in the upper parts of the Tramuntana mountains ant time soon. Still, the first almond blossoms have been spotted here and there and in a couple of weeks’ time there should be plenty of almond trees in full bloom. The mild January weather until now helped the crop albeit there was a severe lack of rain. There may be large quantities of almonds this year of a smaller size than usual, unless we get some rain in February. As it happens, rain is forecast for today and tomorrow and snow is predicted in Mallorca’s higher mountain regions above 900 m from tomorrow night, and above 400 m from Thursday.
Mallorca traditionally was an important producer of almonds. But with the decline of agriculture due to the strong competition of tourism as a prime source of income, the annual almond harvest is said not to yield enough cash to pay for the labour involved. You will see many almond trees on the island still carrying last year’s fruit. A shame really.
Spain reportedly harvested 282,000 tons of almonds in 2009 (according to Wikipedia), including perhaps 30,000 tons grown here in Mallorca. California, Iran, Italy and Morocco are the biggest competitors.
The almond (Prunus Dulcis) is mainly eaten raw, or toasted; it is also used in pastries, cakes and sweets, such as the Spanish turrón, the Mallorcan gató, the Middle Eastern baklava, French nougat, plus marzipan and ice cream. There is also almond butter and there is almond milk.
Almonds give us an oil (Oleum Amygdalae) that can be used for culinary purposes or beauty treatments and often is a substitute for olive oil.
Almonds belong to the same group of plants as do the plum, the cherry, the peach and the rose.
The kernels of the bitter almond (Amygdalus communis) are a good source of amygdaline. According to both, Oriental Medicine and alternative medicine, these kernels are anti-carcinogenic. In Chinese pharmacology, the pits are classified as a drug rather than food as they contain cyanide (hydro-cyanic acid). They are used medicinally and are said to combat cancer, stimulate respiration, improve digestion, help reduce blood pressure and arthritic pain and give a sense of well-being. Don’t take my word for it; I am a blogger, not a doctor. If you have any health problems of the kind mentioned above, please consult your doctor.
For the last three or four years the town of Son Servera has held the Fira de la Flor d’Ametler at the beginning of February. I have not found any dates for this year’s event, yet. Once the date and the event are confirmed, I shall let you know.