Food & Snack Industry News

Almond Growing Season

Monday, February 13th, 2017

AlmondBloom_BLOG

The almond is the product of an almond tree and almost all of the world’s wholesale almonds come from California. Farmers grow almonds trees throughout the year and harvest them between the months of August to October. Dependent on water, it takes almost 1 gallon of water to produce each almond.

The best conditions for almond tree farming are climates conducive to a particular winter chilling, which limits almond tree farming to a few regions in the world. Outside of California, you’ll also find almond farmers in Spain, Italy, Australia, Greece, Morocco, Turkey, and Portugal.

As we are starting to see the first almond blooms of the season, let’s delve in deeper on the almond tree farming process.

From Bud to Bloom

From November to February, the buds of the almond tree need to go through the cold weather, but it’s a balance since they can be negatively impacted by a heavy frost. In late February and early March, the almond tree begins to produce blossoms that are ready for pollination.

Since there are different varietals, the time frame of when blooms occur can vary. Climate variation is considered one of the most critical phases in growing almond trees since it can profoundly impact the harvest size. Between late February and early March, almond tree buds burst into beautiful light pink and white blooms in preparation for pollination.

 

The Pollination Process

Once the almond tree has blossomed, the second phase is pollination. Many almond trees are not self-pollinating, so bees provide the missing piece of the puzzle. Populations of bees are brought to the orchard to carry pollen and initiate crop development.

 

The Maturing and Hull-Split of Almonds

From March to June the almond tree begins to transform the blossoms into an almond in their hull. Also at this time, green almonds are harvested for various culinary uses. By mid-to-late summer, almond hulls begin to split open exposing the almond shell and allowing it to dry. Shortly before harvest, the hulls open completely.

 

Almond Tree Harvesting and Processing

The harvest season for almond farmers is from August to October. The growers have mechanical tree shakers which allow the almonds to fall to the ground. For the next 8 – 10 days, the almonds continue to dry in their shell in the orchard and are then swept and picked up by machines.

The drying process of the almonds is critical for the most optimal harvest. At this point, the almonds are transported in their shells onto a roller where the shells, hulls and remaining debris are removed. Every part of the harvest from the almonds to shells to hulls are utilized. After sizing, almonds are kept in controlled storage conditions to maintain quality until they’re shipped to market through various packaging methods and sold as wholesale almonds.

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Dispelling Myths about the Nut Industry

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

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Peanuts and tree nuts are a critical part of our country’s safe and healthy food supply, and they have a major impact on our nation’s economy. The Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association’s mission is to proactively advance the nut industry through professional networks, advocacy and education. Tropical Foods is a proud member of PTNPA and one of our owners, Angela Bauer, is on the Board of Directors.

The PTNPA recently completed a research study on some of the myths and facts about the nut industry. As with any industry, there are always myths and assumptions associated with it. The PTNPA takes seriously its duty to dispel these myths and promote the valuable role peanuts and tree nuts play in society, health and wellness. A few myths about peanuts and tree nuts are below and you can review the full list of myths and facts HERE.

MYTH:
The agricultural industry is considered to be more focused on crop production than healthy pollinators.

FACT:
Honeybee and beneficial insect health is an issue that tree nut producers care about deeply. Producers understand the vital role that pollinators, including honeybees, play in our food supply. In fact, honeybees and almond trees depend on each other: almond blossoms are a nutritious food source for honeybees, while almond trees rely on honeybees for pollination. For example, when the threat to honeybee health became apparent, almond producers acted quickly to adopt best management practices that protect the health of this valuable natural resource.

These include:
• New guidelines for more careful fungicide applications
• No insecticide applications during almond bloom
• Integrated pest management to minimize agriculture sprays
• Clear communication with all parties, particularly beekeepers

The decline in bee health is a complex issue linked to a variety of factors, and the tree nut industry is determined to find and implement new solutions that support healthy pollinator populations. This commitment is nothing new; since 1995, the Almond Board of California has invested nearly $1.3 million in honeybee health research.


MYTH:

Peanut and tree nut allergies are perceived as common and increasing.

FACT:
All types of food allergies in children are increasing, but fortunately peanut and nut allergies are still relatively rare. The nut industry never intends for anyone to be harmed by its products and takes allergy concerns very seriously. Fortunately, more than 98% of children in the United States can enjoy peanuts and tree nuts without issues — making nut allergies less prevalent than milk and egg allergies in children. But the rise in childhood food allergies isn’t isolated to nuts alone, with total food allergies in children increasing approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. Scientists are working to determine what causes food allergies and the nut industry is following every development on this topic. For example, the recent LEAP study demonstrates that regular consumption of peanuts starting at an early age can prevent peanut allergy development. The industry is committed to education and promotion of reasonable, responsible management of food allergies.

 

MYTH:
Dieters trying to lose weight may think nuts are fatty, high-calorie foods.

FACT:
Nuts are part of the weight management solution. One out of every three adult Americans is obese, part of an ongoing and very serious health challenge facing the United States. While there is no quick fix for this problem, exercise and healthy eating are key components of reducing weight. Peanuts and tree nuts are part of the weight management solution, fitting the profile of a health food when consumed in recommended portions as great snacking options or healthy culinary ingredients. In fact, peanuts and tree nuts are nutrient-dense foods, with peanuts containing seven grams of protein in every ounce and almonds containing 6 grams per ounce. Nuts are also high in fiber and have plenty of good fats. Research shows that fiber and protein help promote a feeling of fullness, and feeling full can help reduce the excessive snacking that contributes to obesity.

You can read the full list of myths and facts HERE.

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Learn to Cook 25 Southern Classics

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

ReadABookDay
Today is National Read a Book Day and to celebrate, we’re highlighting a new book from the culinary industry. Jennifer Brulé is the author and a chef and food writer who has worked with Tropical Foods on various culinary projects over the years. We’re excited to announce her first cookbook “Learn to Cook 25 Southern Classics 3 Ways” was just released today.

Chef Brulé is on a mission, southern style, to teach people to cook. Her cookbook shows how to master 25 classic southern recipes and then -using similar ingredients and/or cooking techniques – make two other variations, contemporary and international. It’s Southern with a twist.  The contemporary versions offer a healthier option while the international ones provide a global spin based on the seven years Brulé spent living abroad.

Brulé has spent her entire career teaching people how to cook through cooking classes, recipe writing and TV appearances. Every recipe is well annotated with loads of tips and tricks—secrets that make cooking easier for even the most novice chef. In addition to 75 delicious recipes, “Learn to Cook 25 Southern Classics 3 Ways” also has a story behind every recipe and the cookbook can be enjoyed even when you’re not in the kitchen.

Chef Brulé is currently on her book tour with upcoming local dates in Davidson, NC on Thursday, September 8th and Charlotte, NC on Thursday, September 15th. Her full list of upcoming events can be found HERE.

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The Top 9 Superfoods

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Superfoods_Blog
Not All Heroes Wear Capes

Superfoods are the superheroes of the food world as they are nutrient powerhouses that pack large doses of vitamins and minerals. They can also be a source of antioxidants, substances that shield our bodies from cell damage and help prevent disease. Here are 9 of our favorite superfoods with the health benefits they offer. Add these to your product offerings and your customers will thank you!

Dried Plums – Prunes
Prunes might convey an old-fashioned image of your Grandma peddling “nature’s candy”, but they are actually a great superfood to incorporate into your diet. They’re packed with polyphenols, plant chemicals that have been shown to boost bone density by stimulating your bone-building cells and can be an effective preventative measure against osteoporosis. They’re naturally sweet and fat free, while also being high in potassium and fiber.

Walnuts
Walnuts are one of the most true superfoods out there. They’re loaded with essential Omega-3s that can help reduce the potential for heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and clinical depression. They are also an excellent source of fiber, magnesium, protein, and phosphorus, as well as the antioxidant selenium.
(more…)

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Top 5 Ways to Increase Fiber Intake

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

HighFiberSnacks

Snacking is a necessary part of any healthy diet plan, but it’s important to limit your fat and sugar content and instead opt for high fiber snacks to keep you satisfied. Snacks that are a good source of fiber are a great way to make sure your metabolism is working all of the time, even between meals.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that’s found in plant foods. Eating fiber has been shown to help keep your digestive system running smoothly, support heart health by lowering cholesterol levels and help maintain blood sugar levels. Increasing your fiber can also aid in weight loss because meals containing fiber are digested more slowly and can help make you feel full longer.  25-30 grams of fiber per day is the recommended daily serving amount.

Here are the Top 5 Ways to Increase Fiber Intake: (more…)

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