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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Almond Shaking

It's raining almonds!!!
It's raining almonds! Literally! We started shaking our almond trees this week, officially starting almond harvest. We wait all year for this time to come and it's here. It will be a busy next couple of months that will set the future for our orchards. Based off orchard production we will decide which orchards may be approaching their end of life, which orchards will finally produce a crop and which orchards we need to use better farming practices on next year.

Almond harvest is early this year due to the drought and a combination of warmer weather we had during winter and spring months and the hot temperatures we have had this summer. We have had three hot spells this summer with 10 plus days of over 100 degree temperatures. When we do cool down, it is usually only to a low of 95 for our day temperatures. Historically, almond harvest starts in our area the beginning of August, so we are roughly 7-10 days early on our farm. Some almond farmers near the Interstate 5 grapevine area and southern end of Kern County started a week earlier than us.

Almonds are harvested by using a machine called a shaker. The shaker has two arms with rubber pads that clamp on the tree trunk and shake for a couple seconds. This allows the almonds to shake off the tree. Only the almonds with open hulls will fall. If you shake too early, when the almonds are too green, they will stick to the tree. Once the almonds are on the orchard floor we give them a week or so to dry out. We want the almonds to have no more than 5% moisture and the hull to have no more than 11% moisture. This will allow the hull to come off easier when it goes to the huller plant for processing. Now we wait until the almonds dry out to sweep them.


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rocky Road Ice Cream

We just got back from a relaxing vacation over at the beach. We were welcomed home by 20 degree increase in weather and an increase in humidity that isn't very enjoyable. As we are getting ready to get those 105 degree days again, my heart melts for some ice cream. While on vacation we made Rocky Road Ice cream on the old fashioned ice cream makers. At home we have the ice cream makers you plug in, push on, walk away and come back in an hour and you have ice cream. Growing up I remember making ice cream with the old wooden makers with ice all around it and pouring rock salt on the ice while it churned. Well this is what we did on vacation too, and boy was it delicious!

After melting the chips with the milk
Adding all the extra deliciousness!


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl






Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Baby News!

We are adding another nut to our family tree... our baby almond farmer is due in December!




Until Next Time, 
Almond Girl 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mississippi Mud

We are getting ready for our yearly family vacation with my husband's family. As we prepare, everyone always has their favorite treats they want to enjoy while on vacation. My mother in law always makes her kids favorite recipes and my husband always requests Mississippi mud. His grandma used to make it for special occasions and on his birthday. There is just something about this dessert that brings back great memories and instantly soothes you. An almond farmer's quadruple threat dessert- coconut, chocolate, marshmallow and of course almonds!


Mississippi Mud
2 sticks butter
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped almonds
1 jar of marshmallow cream

Soften butter to cream with sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Stir in flour and cocoa. Mix coconut and nuts into batter. Pour into greased and floured long jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Spread one jar of marshmallow cream over hot cake. Cool completely and frost with chocolate frosting.

Chocolate frosting
6 tbsp butter
6 tbsp milk
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix butter, milk and sugar over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Beat until spreadable and frost the cake.

Cut and serve like brownies. Best with enjoyed cold. We like to freeze serving size slices.


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hull split and the countdown to almond harvest

Almond harvest is on the way. As almond farmers say, we are in the beginning of hull split and the count down to harvest has begun! When almonds are maturing and about four weeks away from harvest, the hull begins to pull apart from the shell. The hull is the fuzzy, green outer layer of the almond. The hull is similar to peach flesh, which is their biological cousin.  Did you know that almonds are closer related to a peach than any other nut?

The hull splits to allow the almond to separate from the tree and prepare the seed or almond to fall. Similar to when a peach is overripe it falls from the tree. The seed or almond is protected by the almond shell, the harder woody inner layer.

The opening the hull creates, allows for worms and other insects to harm the almond. With the hull splitting, the shell is now the protection layer from any insects trying to eat the almonds. To help the shell guard the almond, farmers spray a protective insecticide to block the insects from eating the almond.
Due to the California drought this year and poor mummy removal, there is any increase in insect habitats giving these almond eaters a home in our trees. In these older orchards that were more susceptible for mummies, we will have to spray the insecticide twice to ensure our almonds are better protected.
Stay tuned, our almonds will be shaking soon!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl