Almonds – migdal zvichayny (harvesting and storage)

communis L. Ukrainian name – almond zvichayny.


Rosaceae family – Rosaceae.

For medicinal purposes, seeds and oil from them are used.

It occurs wild in Turkmenistan (mountains of Kopetdag), in the south of Armenia, in southern Kazakhstan – on the southern stony or gravel slopes of the mountains at an altitude of 700-1200 m above sea level. Cultivated in the Crimea, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Almond is a low drought-resistant tree or shrub 5-8 meters high. Leaves entire, finely toothed, elliptical. Flowers solitary, regular, five-petalled, pale pink or white, with numerous stamens, are found before the leaves open. The fruit is an ovoid drupe with a leathery, green, hairy, inedible fruit within the limits and a large woody one-seeded stone with numerous punctate depressions, hard or fragile (depending on the cultivated variety).

Blooms in March – April.

The fruits are harvested in autumn when fully ripe. The immature fruits hold tightly to the tree and are very difficult to knock down if picked early. They are knocked down with traditionally long poles. One picker per day can collect within 40 kg of fruit.

The harvested fruits are dried in the sun.

In culture, two varieties of almonds are known: sweet (A. communis var. dulcis) and bitter (A. communis var. amara). They are identical in appearance, but do not often differ in the chemical composition and taste of the seeds.

According to GF IX Art. 436 seeds are egg-shaped, slightly flattened laterally; one end of the seed is pointed, the other is rounded and somewhat thickened. Seed length up to 2 cm, width up to 1.2 cm, thickness up to 1 cm. The surface of the seeds is covered with a dull rough light brown or dark brown skin. Sweet almond seeds should be whole, white when broken, not rancid, of a pleasant sweet oily taste, odorless. The admixture of bitter almonds in sweet is determined by their red coloration with concentrated sulfuric acid and by the characteristic smell of benzaldehyde, which appears when the seeds are crushed with water.

Storage period 4 years.

Both varieties of almonds contain 50-60% fatty non-drying oil, protein, mucus, sucrose, and bitter almonds, in addition, within 3% of amygdalin glucoside, during the splitting of which hydrocyanic acid is released. By distillation of bitter almond cake, bitter almond water is obtained, which contains up to 0.1% hydrocyanic acid and is used as a tonic and pain reliever. Bitter almond seeds are poisonous.

Sweet almond seeds, freed from the seed coat, are used to prepare an emulsion used as an enveloping agent for gastrointestinal disorders.

Almond oil is used as a base for some ointments, also as a solvent, in particular, camphor for subcutaneous injections.

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