Skip to main content

Sticks, leaves and dirt...OH MY!

Almonds are harvested off a tree, where we shake them on the ground. Then they are swept into rows and picked up. Sounds like a fairly easy and simply process but there are a lot of moving parts with several steps and processes along the way.


If you start with shaking a tree, the vibrations don't just knock the almonds off the tree but of course any loose sticks or leaves will also fall too. This could cause a problem when it comes to sweeping the nuts. The sticks could get caught in the sweeper brushes and maybe even get caught up in the irrigation hoses.


Once the nuts are in the rows and the harvester is set to run through to pick up the almonds, those sticks could be troublesome again. The harvester will generally have to run at a slower speed through the field as to allow for the sticks to not get caught up in the series of belts that carry the almonds up. When the harvester empties the almonds into the shuttle cart and further on the elevator, sticks can clog up belts and c…

Tour of Maisie Jane's

I was blessed to have been raised in a farming family where I worked in the fields as a child alongside my parents, sister and cousins. My father farmed with his two brothers while I was growing up and our family remained close because our farm was not just a business but a family affair. Today, nearly all my cousins remain active in farming. Some have branched off to their own farming ventures, but one has made a unique niche in flavored nut products.

My cousin owns and operates Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine products where she grows, packs and ships a variety of flavored nuts, butters, desserts and more. The simple soy tamari almond is my favorite, but the mint chocolate covered is a close second, then there is my Auntie’s almond butter pie, and we can’t forget the cowboy bbq. I am just making myself hungry now…so let’s get back to her story. 

I went to visit Maisie when I was home for a weekend and it was refreshing to see her young daughter at work with her learning the business at a young age. I love that farming provides an opportunity for the whole family to be involved. Just as my dad took my sister and I to work with him, I am happy to see family still has the opportunity to be able to do the same thing. Farming is truly a family business. 

I was excited when Maisie offered to give me a tour of their facility. A few years back she was busting at the seams of their small rented facility in town so she made the leap to renovate an existing facility and build their own custom processing facility and dry storage. They are also getting ready for the addition of a cold storage building on site as well, to better help them manage inventory on site with their growing demands. 
She and her husband have their own almond orchards now that they farm, the product is hulled and shelled at her brother’s huller down the street, then steam pasteurized to meet organic standards and everything is brought back home to her processing facility to make the yummy flavored nuts we enjoy. 
Getting ready for our tour
First, they dry roast all the nuts themselves in house. There are two giant fire roasters the nuts tumble through before they start their journey. The day I was there for a visit they were making cashew butter. Maisie has a full line of nut butters which include cashew, almond and chocolate hazelnut. 
dry roasters
Once the nuts are dry roasted they are poured across drying racks to cool down their temperature. Then they are churned into butter. It is as natural as that, no fillers and additives here! The butter is poured into jars and sealed for freshness. Once the lids are placed on the jars then the plastic seal is heated up to form a tight bond around the jar. Labeled, stamped and ready to ship off to a store near you! 
Cooling nuts

Nuts getting ready to head up into the butter churner

Finished butter being bottled

Bottled butter being labeled
The process is similar for her flavored nuts. They are dry roasted in the same barrel style fire roasters and dried to cooling. Then the nuts are bathed with Maisie’s own flavor recipes and spun to take off any excess coating. The flavored nuts are then cooled and bagged in their appropriate sizes, labeled and ready to buy. 

Maisie’s flavored nut products are the perfect little snacks but they also make for great gifts, desserts or a delicious addition to your meal. And I am not just saying this because she is my cousin, this stuff is addicting and amazing!

No disclaimer here, I am not being paid or bought off for this endorsement, just good old fashioned sharing of my secrets to you. 

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Almond by-products

When people think of almond uses they tend to just think of using the almond meat. Almonds have multiple by-products actually. When almonds are processed at the huller the almond meat is separated from the hull and shell. The hulls, shells and hash are also sold and used.

Almond hulls are the green out most layer of the almond while on the tree. The hull is what splits and starts the countdown to harvest. Once the almond has dried in the field, the hull also dries and begins to separate from the almond. At the huller, they remove the hulls and stock pile them until sold. Almond hulls are sold for animal feed, most commonly dairy feed. The hulls actually add nutrition to the animals diet and aid in healthy milk production. Growing up on my family's farm, we used the hulls to feed our breeding sheep. It was cheaper than grain, helped to add nutrition to the animal diet and while filled them up faster.

Almond shells are the hard layer between the hull and the almond meat. …

Modern Agriculture

What is Modern Agriculture?
Modern agriculture could be a scientist in a lab creating the newest impossible non-meat hamburger. Modern agriculture could mean the development of GMO seeds to decrease pesticide use. Modern agriculture could be turning on your irrigation system from an app on your computer. Modern agriculture could just mean the use of GPS in tractors, or maybe just the use of a tractor on a farm. Modern agriculture could mean something different to you depending on how you look at agriculture.






Modern agriculture is essentially developing practices that help farmers increase efficiency and reduce the amount of resources to meet the world's needs. But depending on your interpretation of the term you could already have created your opinion of modern agriculture. 2% of the population is involved in agriculture but 100% of the population has opinions.
That's the situation we face today, consumers tend to develop their own opinions of modern agriculture without unders…

Almond varieties

Did you know there are over 30 different varieties of almonds grown commercially?! All have their own unique purpose, size, and shape. Most almond farmers, have multiple varieties in the same orchard, the most popular being nonpareil. Nonpareil is the prettiest almond, most widely produced and comes with the biggest return back to the grower. But we can't all farm nonpareils, they need to be pollinated somehow. Almonds typically need at least two varieties in an orchard because the almond flower cannot pollinate itself like other fruit trees can. We learned about that with the almond bloom and bee blog!! So we have pollinator varieties that complement other varieties and offer their own unique purpose. I am going to outline a few of the more widely grown varieties for you, but feel free to check out The Almond Board of California's full guide.


Nonpareil has the most uses and purposes of any other nut. It can be used in raw form, blanched, processed or anything you …