The Allure of the Almond

Almonds in MallorcHistorically Almonds became popular in Mallorca in the 18th century at the expense of the vineyards. Almond trees were planted in their thousands to replace the grape vines that had been devastated by the outbreak of phylloxera.

Today Mallorca has close to five million almond trees and the island’s landscape is at its finest when the almond trees blossom. The incredibly picturesque scenes of the almond blossom attracts thousands of tourists each year. Almonds are now one of Mallorca’s main crops. They cover a surface area of over 60,000 hectares in the Balearics, of which 90% are in Mallorca, and produce around 14,000 tons of this precious dried fruit.

The Almond nut is highly prized by chefs for both savoury and sweet dishes. Mallorcan almonds are particularly sweet and have a high percentage of oil – sometimes reaching 60% – compared to almonds from other countries. Their low water content makes Mallorcan almonds a great source of nutrients with high energy and protein levels, similar to the protein contents of meat and fish. Thanks to these benefits, Mallorcan almonds have become a key ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. They are especially well suited to baking.

Almonds are eaten natural, toasted or as an ingredient in many of the islands’ typical dishes, especially pastries. Almond products packaged in Mallorca are sold under the brand name, “Ametla de Mallorca”. We now even have beauty products made with almond ingredients that can be found in perfumeries throughout Spain.

Popular Mallorcan Almond dishes include the Christmas delicacy of Turrón, Amargos (almond pastry), Gató (almond sponge cake), ice cream, marzipan, almond milk, biscuits and a typical almond liqueur Flor de Ametla. Traditional cooked dishes range from almond soup to rabbit, chicken & fish cooked in almonds.

For the ultimate Almond treat you need to visit the famous Palma café lounge Can Joan de s’Aigo. It  is Mallorca’s oldest ice-cream parlour. In the 19th century Mateu Jaume used to make an exquisite almond and pine nut “horchata”. The price for a cup was set according to the amount of sugar in the drink. Today the almond “horchata” (which originates from Valencia) can be found mainly in Valldemossa – it’s a cool, refreshing almond milk drink.

The Almond is now so important in Mallorca that the Baleares government are producing guides and web pages highlighting its nutritional benefits and the best places on the island to view the almond blossom, as well as describing the many different almond products and popular almond recipes. More information can be found here: www.itineraris.org or www.balearsculturaltour.com

Walking at “almond blossom” time is fabulous, romantic and unique. Hence many hotels, tourist offices and walking associations on the island all feature their own version of walks to take in the spectacular countryside in full bloom. Our very own Almond Blossom walk is featured in a previous blog article, as is our Blossom Fever holiday itinerary.

Make sure you stock up with some almonds before coming on one of our walks – they’re a fantastic high energy and nutritional snack and they’re light to carry too!