If you’re ever stranded on a deserted island it might be a good idea to bring along an almond tree… We’d probably also invite Bear Grylls (but that’s totally up to you).
Almond trees thrive in arid, unaccommodating conditions. All they need to flourish is a little water in their early years when the saplings are sown and some occasional pruning to encourage them to spread. These criteria make them a perfect match for the parched terracotta landscape of inland Majorca in the Balearic Islands.
Several native varieties mingle together across the sun-baked island but all share the traits of having great flavour and high nutritional value. The natural hardiness of the trees also means that there is a general lack of interest in pesticide among the island’s farming community. Last season Majorca’s working farms (a category which encompasses small scale growers all the way through to those renting large scale expanses of land) together collected 2500 tonnes of almonds.
The fruits these trees bear contain the brilliant, multi-purpose seeds we use here at Lush (almonds are actually seeds not nuts, as is commonly believed). Ground almonds are gentle, effective exfoliators, great for buffing away dead skin.
Arriving in September, the Majorcan trees have shed their picturesque white-pink spring blossoms and the harvest is well underway.
In many plots almonds are still collected traditionally. Farmhands thwack the sturdy almond branches to spill the plentiful crop onto tight nets that are strewn across the ground. Increasingly though, farms – including one we recently visited outside Alaró – are mechanising and using tractors fitted with a large folding canopy. These reverse to fit up to the trunk and wings unfold from a clasp to shake and grip the tree. A screw then coaxes the almonds (stored in their natural shell to preserve freshness) from the canopy into an internal container.
A processing company with impressive technology assess many of the island’s almonds. Millions are sorted very quickly for quality, density and visual imperfection. To produce ground almonds, the seeds are cracked, examined for foreign objects like pebbles and then passed through two stages of metal detection. Rollers regularise shape and sieve to the required particle size before they pass a final metal detection test (it’s a bit like airport security) ready to be sent to us.
We at Lush believe that all almonds are created equally, which is why we’re so happy that the Majorcan factory utilises so much of the almond yield… even the dust created in grinding. We get all the super benefits of ground almonds with the added benefit of knowing that nothing is going to waste.