If you love almonds and plan on having your almond plant for all your almond needs, you should start by learning about almonds’ life cycle and when and how to harvest almonds properly—the reason why today, we’ll be sharing with you how to harvest almonds and more essential tips.
Almonds are enjoyed in many ways, occasions, and locations! From whole almonds to blanched, sliced, and diced ones, almond flour, paste, butter, oil, milk, and more. Almonds are incredibly versatile, satisfying, and packed with powerful plant-based nutrition, supporting healthy diets worldwide.
Though it may seem a little intimidating initially, especially if you are new to growing your plants, you have nothing to worry about. Harvesting is a reasonably straightforward process. With the right guide and equipment, you’ll soon become a pro at how to harvest almonds.
Can you eat almonds straight from the tree?
Almond trees technically produce drupes, a type of fruit with a fuzzy layer called a hull and a hard shell containing the nut we love so much.
While you can eat the almond straight from the tree, it usually tastes better after drying. The drying process is also crucial in preventing almonds from molding when you store them. Once you shake a kernel and the seed inside rattles, crack the kernel open and eat the seed nut.
When should almonds be harvested?
Depending upon the variety, almonds are ready for harvest from early August to late September. Harvest should begin when about 95 percent of the nuts have split open hulls to expose the in-shell almond inside.
What do farmers use for harvesting almonds?
Almond farmers use mechanical tree shakers to get the almonds to fall to the ground. They are left to dry further in the summer sun for as many as eight to ten days. Eventually, they are swept into rows and picked up for processing.
How do you extract almonds from almonds?
If you have trouble getting them off, quit picking almond nuts with your hands and use pruning shears to snip the stems just above the drupes.
How are almonds removed from the shell?
The almonds are pulled out with a conveyor and sent through a hulling cylinder or shear roll from storage. After the almond shells have been cracked and removed, the almonds are once more sent through screens to separate the aspirated shells from the almond meal.
What are the three stages of almonds?
- First Stage. In this stage, the almond hulls are entirely closed. If you pick them up and open them now, almond nuts will be green and sour. Leave them on the trees for a longer time.
- Second Stage. The hulls of the almonds will start to split open. Through the narrow split, you will see the wood-like almond shell. This is when inside the shell, the nut (kernel) starts to dry slowly as it is exposed to the sun and wind.
At this stage, the almonds are almost ready. Almond hulls are split open but are still sticking to the shell, so they are not yet ripe.
- Third Stage. Day by day, a drupe (hulls) on your almonds are getting wholly opened, and their color change from green to yellowish. This is the right time to harvest; your almonds are ripe and ready.
How to dry almonds?
- As soon as you harvest your almonds, remove the hull from the shells. It is easy to peel it off with your hands if you gather it at the right time.
- Put your almond shells in the drying tray and leave them in a sunny and windy position for drying.
- Keep them exposed to the sun for about 3 to 4 weeks, depending on humidity and particular microclimate conditions.
- To check if the almonds are dry, shake the shell and listen to see if you can feel the nut moving inside the body. If yes, crack the surface of one or two almonds; it should be frail and crispy.
How to store almonds?
Once your kernels are adequately dried, it’s advisable to freeze them to kill off any pests.
Before storing them, you need to decide whether to shell or not to shell. Shelled almonds can last happily up to 8 months at room temperature or out of their shells for around a year chilled at 32-45°F.
Storage in airtight containers is recommended.
How to Harvest Almonds
- The first step in harvesting almond nuts is to gather the drupes that have already split and fallen.
- After that, spread a tarp beneath the tree.
- Start picking almond nuts from the branches you can reach on the tree. If you have trouble getting them off, quit picking almond nuts with your hands and use pruning shears to snip the stems just above the drupes.
- Drop all drupes onto the tarp.
- Almond nut harvesting continues with a long pole. Use it to knock the drupes from the higher branches onto the tarp.
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Additional Tips on How to Harvest Almonds
- Rubber mallets are used to harvest many different nuts and can be purchased online or at a local garden supply store.
- Make sure to wear protective eyewear and a hard hat! The nuts will follow the mallet down toward you, so you want to protect your eyes and your head.
- Consider composting the hulls to dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way.
- Cover your trays with netting to protect the almonds from birds and pests.
- If your nuts are still not dry after two days, that is okay! Depending on humidity and moisture levels, almonds can sometimes take up to 1 week to fully dry.
- When the nuts are completely dry, you can shake the shell and feel the nut moving around inside.
- While checking your nuts’ progress, ensure you always start from the top of the tree. As the top of the tree is most exposed to sunlight, this is the area where the hull split will first begin.