How many kilos of almonds did we pick this year? It’s a heap of almonds. A basketful. I read that the price of almonds has almost doubled from last year, to 9 euros a kilo. My grandson, Leo, who helps me pick them, can add to his savings account.
Then I realize that the price is probably for shelled almonds. And, shelling them by hand is tedious, we can tell you. Leo and I spent a couple hours to get about 4 cups.
The price is up because demand worldwide has increased and because California, which produces more than 80 percent of the crop, has suffered drought, reducing production. Spain, the world’s second producer of almonds, uses this nut so extensively that it has to import almonds. Growers are extending almond plantations, finding the crop more profitable than either citrus or olives.
The almond appears in the Spanish kitchen, from soup to nuts! Ajo blanco is the chilled white gazpacho based on ground almonds. Turrón, nougat, and marzipan are two beloved candies made with almonds. Crushed almonds go into sauces such as pepitoria. (At the end of this post are links to more recipes with almonds.)
|A vendor of candied almonds in the village plaza.|
Lacking a copper pan, I used a round-bottomed rolled steel (not stainless) wok. The round bottom keeps the caramel from getting stuck in the corners. (Afterwards, boiling water loosens any caramel left adhering to the pan.)
|Vendor offers samples.|
Crunchy Caramel Almonds
Makes 3 cups candied almonds.
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup water
2 cups almonds (not skinned)
Divide the sugar in 3 parts.
|Almonds bubbling in sugar syrup.|
Sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar. Stir the almonds constantly until the sugar begins to melt and adhere to the almonds.
Sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar. Continue stirring, just until the sugar coats the almonds. Remove from heat and turn the almonds out onto a baking sheet. The whole process takes about 5 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, separate the almonds that are stuck together.
|Treats! Crunchy candied almonds.|
Here are links to more recipes using almonds.
ALMOND RING COOKIES (Melindres)
LAYER CAKE WITH APRICOTS AND MARZIPAN (Bizcocho de Toledo)
CHRISTMAS ALMOND SOUP (Sopa de Almendras para Navidad)
ALMOND TORTE FROM SANTIAGO DE LA COMPOSTELA (Torta de Almendras de Santiago)
ALMOND PUFFS (Suspiros de Almendras).
CARDOONS WITH ALMOND SAUCE (Cardos en Salsa de Almendras).
MONKFISH SOUP (Sopa de Rape)
MONKFISH AND POTATOES IN CAZUELA (Cazuela de Rape y Patatas)
CHICKEN IN ALMOND-SAFFRON SAUCE (Gallina en Pepitoria).
WHITE GAZPACHO WITH GRAPES (Ajo Blanco con Uvas)
MEATBALLS IN ALMOND SAUCE (Albóndigas en Salsa de Almendras).