ALMONDS: PROVIDER OF NUTRITION AND VITAL ENERGY

M.R. CHAUDHRY
June 16 - 22, 2008

Almonds have been thought to have been originated in Western Asia and North Africa. The Romans referred to almonds as the "Greek Nut" in reference to the civilization are suggested to have first cultivated them.

One concept is that Almond is a native of Iran. It is a small deciduous tree, growing to 4-10 meter tall, with a trunk up to 30 centimeters. The young shoots grown at first become purplish when exposed to sunlight, then turn grey in second year. The flowers are white or pale pink in colour, 3-5 centimeters with petals.

The fruit is a dupe 3.5 6 centimeters long with a downy outer coat. The outer covering a leathery grey green coat is called the hull, which contains a hard shell inside the edible kernel called a nut. Generally there is one kernel or nut but occasionally there are two.

It attains maturity in the autumn, 7-8 months after flowering.

PRODUCTION

Global production of almonds is around 1.7 million tons. It was low in the year 1995 being one million tons and was at the peak in 2002 being 1.85 million tons. According to FAO, the world production of almonds in 2006 was 1,76 million tons.

Production of major producers is given below:

- USA

7156231 tons

41 percent

- Spain

2200001 tons

13 percent

- Syria

1196481 tons

7 percent

- Italy

1127961 tons

6 percent

-Iran

1086771 tons

6 percent

- Morocco

830001 tons

5 percent

- Algeria, Tunisia & Greece each accounts for

 

3 percent

- Turkey, Lebanon & China each accounts for

 

2 percent

Almond is the sixth leading agricultural product and it is top agricultural export of California. California exported almonds worth $1.08 billion in 2003, which was equivalent to 70 percent of almonds crops of California.

It is a tree of the temperate zone with dry summer, naturalized in the Mediterranean Basin and is cultivated in Loralai and its adjoining areas, Kashmir and Balochistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Cyprus, Turkey, Spain, California (U.S.A.)

Deep, loamy and well drained soils are suitable but will tolerate even poor soils. It requires mild winters and long rainless hot summers with low humidity.

PLANTING DESIGNING, DRAINING & PRUNING

Trees are planted in rectangular or hexagonal arrangement, with separate rows of pollinizers and main cultivars, usually alternating with each other. Solid rows of pollinizers are used since trees are shaking harvested. At maturity, pruning consists of water sprout removal, removal of dead and interfering branches and limb thinning.

POLLINATION

Most of the pollination is managed by pollination brokers, who contract with migratory beekeepers from at least 30 states for the event. Pollination demand is high enough in California Central Valley that bees are even imported from Australia for the February almond bloom. Almonds are self incompatible and require cross-pollination. Honey bees, which are the main pollinators, are absolutely essential especially since cool, wet weather can occur at the relatively early blooming period.

HARVESTING

Harvesting is done by hand shaking as well as mechanical shaking. Young plants are preferably hand shacked to avoid damage to the plant.

Sweet and Bitter Almonds: There are two forms of the plant, one is often with white flower producing sweet almonds and the other with pink flowers producing bitter almonds.

HOW TO SELECT AND STORE ALMONDS

Almonds that are still in their shells have the longest shelf life. When purchasing almonds, it is advisable that they are checked that they are not split or stained. Shelled almonds that are stored in hermetically sealed containers will last longer than those sold and stored in bulk bins. If stored in bulk bins, it should be ensured that the stock has a quick turn-over and the bulk containers are sealed well to ensure maximum freshness. While purchasing almonds it should be checked that they are uniform in colour and not limp or shriveled. Beside, almonds should smell sweet and nutty. If their odour is sharp or bitter, they are rancid and of bad quality.

DIETARY, NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICAL VALUE OF ALMONDS

Almond is known as a healthful diet. Almond is called the king of dried fruits.

DIETARY VALUE:

Almonds, dry roasted
0.25 cup, 34.50 grams
205.96 calories.

NUTRIENT

AMOUNT

DV %

NUTRIENT

WORLD'S HEALTHIEST FOOD

   

DENSITY

RATE

Manganese

0.90 mg

45.0

3.9

Very good

Vitamin E

8.97 mg

44.9

3.9

Very good

Magnesium

98.67 mg

24.7

2.2

good

Tryptophan

0.07 g

21.9

1.9

good

Copper
Vitamin B2

0.40 mg

20.0

1.7

good

(riboflavin)

0.30 mg

17.6

1.5

good

Phosphorus

168.70 mg

16.9

1.5

good

Almonds have a crunchy texture and possess a rich delicate flavour that is especially good in desserts like candy, ice cream, tortes and coffee. Almonds can be procured and purchased shelled or unshelled.

Almonds is an ancient food that has been written about in historical texts including Bible.

According to Ayurvedic scholars almonds from Iran are the best and that from the U.S.A. is of a low quality. As per Ayurvedic concept, dry fruit generally provides nutrition and vital energy to the body. Out of all the dry fruits, almond is said to provide maximum benefits. It suppresses pita. It is oily and is helpful nutritive for the brain and nervous system. It is also said to improve eye sight. According to Buddhist monks, use of almonds is helpful for health and longevity. It is also used as a general tonic for gaining weight and for relief of backache. For mentally retarded children, the paste of 3-6 almonds with milk is beneficial if given every day. Almond oil (Roghan Baadam) is a laxative and is used for relieving back-ache. Arabic women massage their breasts with almond oil to improve breast feeding.

The U.S.A., Turkey and Pakistan are the three largest suppliers of in-shell almonds to China. During 2002-03 U.S. trade in-shell almonds accounted for 1,348 metric tons out of the total 2159 tons imported. The United States is the pre-dominant supplier of shelled almonds to China. It exported 516 of the 548 tons imported by China during 2002-03.