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Camino de la Cooperativa 6
Almond Paste from the Island
For many centuries almond trees on La Palma have been cultivated. Meanwhile, most of them have turned into wild growing ones.
On one hand this goes along with lack of interest in tree care and on the other hand means that no agrochemicals are used.
Only during picking season, around October, it gets busy in local almond groves.
For Birgit Ana Morasch-Ketterle in Puntagorda this is the kick-off for the new season.
She has been living on La Palma for 27 years and from the very start it has been her aim to produce excellent almond paste.
During her time as an owner of a health food shop in Germany she got familliar with different varieties of this energy booster.
Part of her luggage when she arrived in La Palma was a special machine, she bought second-hand. However, it took Birgit a lot of patience, time and many rebuilding works in order to develop an impeccable almond paste.
And the machine still works perfectly fine.
Besides the semi-automatic machine, Birgit also requires raw material.
She owns herself some almond trees and some years ago she also has installed a manufacturing area for almond paste at Cooperative Agrícola Virgen del Pino.
There, members of the Cooperative and private people deliver their harvested almond seeds in order to crack them open. Some pick up their peeled almonds later, others sell them, which makes Birgit be well placed right at the source.
She tells us, that many almonds she processes are still manually cracked.
There are mainly old people from the surrounding area, still carefully tapping the hard shells with a hammer before delivering Birgit their seeds in bags or sacks.
Birgit's huge respect goes to a 87 year old, who little by little handed in 16 sacs with over 400kg manually cracked almonds.
"Almonds from Puntagorda are truly something special", explains Birgit. "They provide less peelings and more seed", she adds.
In general, the quality of Palmerian almonds is excellent. More than 40 different types are found on the island and give the paste its special flavour.
Seeds are carefully roasted and then mashed into the „crema de almendras“
The cream comes without any added sugar, fat or emulsifiers - 100 % almonds.
Therefore, the paste is also suited for diabetics.
Refrigerated storage is not necessary in order to keep almond paste fresh. Its natural oil is collected at the surface and preserves the paste. Simply stir before using.
Birgit produces almond paste from freshly cracked almonds four times a week.
This makes, depending on the almonds, 100 - 200 jars. Birgit not only works during the season, but year-round or until she used up all almonds.
Almond Paste is rich in Protein, Calcium and Minerals Nutrients
It is delicious topped on bread, particularly with honey, spread on top of goat cheese, used in spaghetti sauce with basil, as a dip and to flavour desserts.
In the savoury cuisine it blends perfectly where usually cream is used (for example in vegetable soups).
With regard to ensure the future of almond trees, their spectacular blossoming and also the almond paste for a long time, Birgit as well as Carlos from the Cooperative take more interest in maintenance and planting new almond trees - obviously without any pesticides.
Photos: Ines Dietrich, Uka Rösch