Ametlla garapinyada: almonds, generally of the marcona or llargueta varieties, which are covered in caramel and eaten as sweets, although they are also often used to decorate cakes. These almonds are more commonly produced in the south of Catalonia, which is the country’s main almond producing area, and have proved to be so popular there that they are now generally considered to be a traditional product.
Sharing a common origin with the traditional almond-filled hard nougat bars known as torró dur, these roasted almonds are added to a syrup made with sugar and water that is previously left to redden in colour. The almonds are added later and stirred in to stop them sticking together. As this technique keeps the almonds hard and avoids oxidation, it is also used on other seeds and nuts, such as hazelnuts and walnuts, which can also commonly be found in shops.
Native to Iran, almond trees are cultivated in many places around the world with the right climatic conditions, from southern Europe to California in the United States. In fact, the US is now the biggest producer of almonds, accounting for about half of global production, which in 2017 was 2.2 million tonnes. At over a quarter million tonnes, Spain is the world’s second-largest producer of almonds, which are cultivated in a number of places, principally Catalonia, Valencia, Murcia, Andalusia, Aragon, and the Balearic Islands.
The almond is a nutritionally dense food, and a rich source of the B vitamins riboflavin and niacin, vitamin E, and the essential minerals calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc.