– we are verily with almonds! Yes indeedio, the unprecedented joy of an almond glut (not that almond + glut makes any kind of sense).
Prunus dulcis "Nonpareil". Barely visible fossilised ammonite for scale (my pleasure).
Only the nuts on the Nonpareil almond are ripe; its friend, the Carmel, is biding its time, which means that what you see in the basket above is a mere half of our first proper almond harvest (insh'allah). The Nonpareil gets the full force of the Western sun, whereas the Carmel catches a patch of afternoon shadow, and it's to this that I attribute the variation in ripening time, although I do note, having consulted the University of California's pamphlet on "Harvesting and Storing Your Home Orchard's Nut Crop" (essential reading, a tour de force), that "depending on variety, almonds are ready for harvest between early August [that would be early February to me] to late September [i.e., March]". So it may be that all Carmels will prove slower than all Nonpareils.
Never having had much to do with almond harvesting before (thanks, cockies), I'm relying fairly heavily on the good almond commentators at the U of California. They advise that harvest "should begin when 95% of the nuts have hulls that have split open to expose the in-shell almond inside", although they also say that you can proceed when only 75% have split, to save your almonds from North American equivalents to the cockatoo, though frankly I don't think that would work with the cockatoos round here.
After harvest, I'm supposed to remove the hulls while watching Barnaby Joyce on last night's recording of Q and A. Gosh he's a weirdo.
And then the nuts in their shells need additional drying to prevent mold. In the midst of this drying process, which I have trusted to my Fowlers' Vacola Dehydrator, I'm meant to unshell a nut periodically and check whether it's dry and brittle. Once they are - dry and brittle - they're good for 8 months at room temperature, and longer if frozen. So, tra la!, almonds!