An almond tree (Prunus dulcis) in your yard gives you a source of healthful protein, dietary fiber and unsaturated fats only steps from the door. Growing in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 to 9, almonds are ready for harvest from early August to late September, depending on the variety. Commercial growers harvest almonds mechanically, but home tree owners can harvest them by hand. Children can help harvest by picking up almonds, as long as they wash their hands before and afterwards. After harvesting, almonds need additional processing for drying and storage.
1 Monitor the tree from early August to late September. Inspect almonds at the top of the tree, because almonds ripen at the top of the tree first. Look for almonds that have splitting hulls.
2 Continue monitoring the tree until 75 percent of the nuts have split hulls. Put on protective eye and head gear to prevent injury from falling nuts. Remove any debris from the ground underneath the tree. Spread out a tarp underneath the tree to catch falling nuts.
3 Shake small branches within reach. Hit major branches with a rubber mallet to knock almonds from the tree. Poke higher branches with a long pole.
4 Gather the almonds immediately. Remove the outer hull from the almonds by hand promptly to help them dry. Spread the almonds out in a thin layer on a screen.
5 Cover the almonds with a plastic net to prevent birds from stealing them. Keep the almonds outside in the sunshine, but move them under a cover if it rains. Stir the almonds often.
6 Check the nuts for dryness a few times daily. Shake the shells, and if they are dry, they will rattle. When the almonds are dry, the kernels inside of the shells will be crisp when broken. If they are rubbery, they need more time to dry.
7 Store almonds in a plastic container at room temperature for 8 months. They can be stored at 40 degrees F for a year. Store them at 0 degrees F for more than a year.
- Raw almonds may contain Salmonella if handled improperly, so sanitize all tools that come in contact with them.
- Maria Teijeiro/Lifesize/Getty Images