The almonds ripen from spring into summer. The trees are not irrigated and this enables the taste to increase until harvesting time. In fact, unlike other crops, almonds are picked as late as possible, at the moment when they are at their very best. At the same time, waiting too long could mean that the almonds risk developing mould due to sudden rain or by naturally falling off the trees.
Harvesting takes place at the end of August. The outside hulls are immediately taken off and the almonds are left to dry in the sun. They are then ready to be stored, shelled and put in packets. Harvesting in August is carried out using shaking machines and nets on the ground to catch the almonds.
Hulling and drying
Once collected, the almonds will be freed from their hulls. All varieties are hulled after 24 hours’ rest in order to facilitate turgescence and separation from the hulls. This process is carried out using a hulling machine and finally by hand.
This is a very important and crucial moment. In fact, excessive dampness is a threat to the preservation of the organoleptic properties of almonds and increases the risk of mould.
Drying in the sun
If the weather is fine this takes 3 to 4 days, with the almonds covered with sheets at night to protect them from dampness. An interesting point: a practical method still used today to see if the almonds are completely dry – take a handful and shake them. If they are dry you can hear the almonds rattling inside against the shells.
Once they are shelled and dried, the almonds will be kept dry and away from all sources of heat to avoid mould and mildew.
This carried out with the use of a shelling machine and is followed by separation of the almonds inside and the shells.
This is of fundamental importance when aiming at quality. It is carried out manually by experienced workers who separate the whole almonds from those damaged during shelling.
The almonds are now ready to be stored and put into packets.