The almond is a stone fruit related to the cherry and peach.
Almonds are mentioned as far back as the bible, where they were a prized addition to bread served to Egyptian Pharaohs. Almonds are thought to have originated in China and central Asia. Travelers often ate almonds while travelling along the ‘Silk Road’ between Asia and southern Europe. This led to almond trees popping up in the Mediterranean especially Italy and Spain.
The almond was brought to America, specifically California in the mid-1700’s by the Franciscan Padres. The cold, damp weathers of the coast did not provide optimum conditions for the plant to grow, however. It was not until the following century that the tree was planted with success. By the 1870’s, experimentation had begun and many breeds of almond began to pop up. By the 20th century, the almond industry was established in California’s Central Valley.
Through history almonds have had a religious, social and ethnic significance. The Bible tells a story of Aaron’s rod that blossomed and grew almonds, giving the almond a divine significance. The Romans showered newly weds in almonds as a sign of fertility.