The shakers, beaters and bearers of huge nets are out in the fields for the annual autumn almond harvest.
Emblematic of Mallorca, the four million almond trees blanket the island with white and pink blooms in late January into February signalling the end of a short winter.
Concentrated in the centre of the island, Santa Maria, Lloseta, Marratxi and surrounding areas, these trees produce ´ametlla de Mallorca `( Majorcan almonds ) that have a unique sweet flavour as well as a higher concentration of proteins, fatty acid and carbohydrates than almonds grown in other regions.
But knowing when to pick is the key, you just need to observe your ‘drupes’ ! When the outer husk ( the drupe ) dries, splits and falls from the tree, it’s time to start picking.
Keeping with local tradition, most almond groves are harvested using the tried and tested method of shaking and beating the laden branches with wooden poles and collecting them in wide nets that are held or laid below the trees.
Occasionally you will see a mechanical beater, that swirls around the tree like a giant spider’s web and funnels the nuts into a collection chamber.
Once collected and bagged, the shells are mechanically cracked revealing the sweet treasures inside. The almonds are then blanched to remove the outer skin, heated, dried and cooled and ready for action.
Salted, roasted or ground for Mallorca’s delicious gató de almendras ( almond cake ) and of course used in turron at Christmas time.
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