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Hall's Hardy Almond

 
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
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Anyone have any real experience with these? I have 2 of them and Im reading conflicting information that says they are crap to eat, and others saying they are great. Any harvesting/processing tips you can offer? Thanks!
 
                                    
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Yeah, I've had them for over 20 years.  Its a peach/almond cross, not a true almond.  The kernels are kind of small, and you do have to boil the cyanide out of them before eating.  The finished product is actually very good, quite tasty when roasted and salted, a good strong almond flavor, not bitter if processed correctly

The problem, however, lies in the shell.  It is TOUGH, TOUGH, TOUGH to crack.  A very hard, stony pit, and no matter what methods I've tried, hammer, nut cracker, etc., the kernel tends to shatter with the shell.

If I had more time, I would consider gathering them, but generally just leave them.  The squirrels will take them late in the winter, I guess when other food sources are low, but don't bother them before that, probably too bitter.  For my money, just too hard to crack and too time consuming.

For nut production, I'd look into some of the more hardy, true papershell almonds like Titan.  I've got that going, but its only been in the ground 2 years, tree looks great but no blooms this year, perhaps next.

FWIW, Halls Hardy is truly a beautiful spring blooming tree.  I would replace mine when they went just as ornamentals if some better, dual purpose variety weren't available.  As I said, still waiting to see how Titan compares to Hall's Hardy.
 
Rob Sigg
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I read that the fruit will dry and crack open revealing the husk and nut in the fall. Is that correct? Have you tried the fruit at all, any good? You mentioned the B17, why would all these nurseries be selling them as edible nuts if they are harmful unless boiled? Wouldnt they have to disclaim that?
 
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Would a vise work for cracking them?  Squeeze until it cracks @ the seam, then insert a screwdriver tip and twist?
 
                                    
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The "husk" of Hall's is like a true almond, hard, woody, and incredibly bitter.  Not something you would ever eat more than one bite of.  I know the hard way, I tasted it years ago, a definite "spitter".  It splits open in the autumn and the pit inside falls out clean, albeit sometimes coated with sticky sap.

I would hope that nurseries would mention that this is a bitter variety.  I did some google searching on this, and it seems that some trees are less bitter than others.  I know mine are NOT edible in the raw state -- you definitely spit them out after a couple of seconds chewing them. 

Yes, the vise idea would probably work, it just would be time consuming
 
Rob Sigg
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I wonder if they are just selling a more improved variety now that is safe to eat? I know some b17 is good for you, but you would think they would not sell it if they knew it was harmful. Thanks for the info.
 
pollinator
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i have a young dwarf one that hasn't flowered yet, and am interested to see how it does when it fruits..have read also that they must be boiled as well..but the info that came with mine did NOT state that either..said that they were sweet almonds..but likely not
 
John Polk
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This entire thread is interesting to me, as I am hoping to be moving to a Zone 6 region.
The bulk of the almond industry is in zones 8-9 in California.  I would be thrilled to be able to grow some in z6.

Any pistachios grow in Z6?
 
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I have a Hall's Hardy Almond. I think I've had it for 5 years now, and it is completely loaded with almonds this year. As it is only May right now, I'm excited to see how this turns out! If I can remember to, I'd like to give you guys an update on taste and ease of cracking. I'm in south-east Missouri, we're a zone 6. This tree grew fast and healthy. That might be because of burying deceased pets, and taking my compost out to it. I also watered it with a "weed compost tea" on occasion. It also has lots of mulch around it. We use to mulch with grass cut with a scythe, but this year, we got a hold some wood chips for our trees. I really love this tree, I will be a bit disappointed if we cannot eat these. So I will be trying every method possible. The internet says harvest time will be between July and October? LOL! That's a big time span. I'm betting on October. See you then!
 
pollinator
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There are about 25 immature fruits on our tree this year too - a big jump from the single flower and zero fruits last year.

Like you, I'm determined to make this work. We bought the tree before reading all the mixed reviews on the actual edibility of the nuts. I'm really hopeful that we've got one of the good ones.

I too will plan to return in the fall with a report.
 
Rachell Koenig
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It's now September 11th, and all the fruits that were on my Hall's hardy almond tree have either ripened and fallen off, or have been eaten like peaches by my neighbor!  I can not convince him that it is an almond tree.  They are like firm peaches, I have even eaten a few myself.  Is this because I have 3 peach trees also?  My tree was loaded, and I refused to prune... sadly almost all the branches snapped.  But I'm betting that it will be fine after I just chainsaw prune it.  I plan to collect some of the pits off the ground and see what can be done with them.  So far I have cracked one open and it was exactly like a peach pit... which I like.  But I know everyone will want to know if you can make them taste like almonds from the store.  I'll do one more update when I learn more.  
 
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Rachell Koenig wrote:It's now September 11th, and all the fruits that were on my Hall's hardy almond tree have either ripened and fallen off, or have been eaten like peaches by my neighbor!  I can not convince him that it is an almond tree.  They are like firm peaches, I have even eaten a few myself.  Is this because I have 3 peach trees also?  My tree was loaded, and I refused to prune... sadly almost all the branches snapped.  But I'm betting that it will be fine after I just chainsaw prune it.  I plan to collect some of the pits off the ground and see what can be done with them.  So far I have cracked one open and it was exactly like a peach pit... which I like.  But I know everyone will want to know if you can make them taste like almonds from the store.  I'll do one more update when I learn more.  



Was the fruit part good tasting? The idea of a peach with an edible (or semi-edible) seed really appeals to me.
 
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My dear bride bought me an almond tree (Garden Prince) this past March to celebrate our 25th anniversary.  I planted it on the west side of the house, to shade the house from the hot afternoon sun, and to absorb all the heat that is stored in the stucco and hardscaping on that side of the house (a paver driveway, a block wall, a concrete sidewalk).

On most nights before I turn in for bed, that's the last place I visit --- to take a leak around the drip-line of the tree.  As you can imagine, all that nitrogen has caused that tree to grow amazingly this summer, and with our hot Southern California evenings, it shows no sign of slowing down, even through we are now in September.  Our crop this year was 3 almonds.  Whoo hoo!  But I'm sure it will bear abundantly in the years to come.

I hope to re-plumb my upstairs bathrooms soon (both upstairs bathrooms are on that side of the house) to create a grey water system to keep that thirsty tree satisfied.  When life gives you hot days, warm evenings and grey water, make lemonade  . . . er . . . make almond brittle.  
 
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Anyone have an update on cracking Hall's Hardy Almonds? Trying to choose between planting these and Carpathian English Walnut Tree!

The Carpathian English Walnut seems to be quite cold hardy, and easier to process, but is a Juglan. I'm worried about my chickens having access to fallen fruit.  

The almonds sound lovely just for their bloom but I don't know if I want to fight with cracking them, boiling them, and roasting them. But at least it' in the rose family?

 
Roberta Wilkinson
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I said I would return, and I didn't!

I have cracked them without too, too much trouble. It is a hard shell, but not impossible.

The nut inside tasted good, but had a strong almond flavor, which I know is also the cyanide flavor, which caused me to get a little paranoid about eating too many. But... it's advertised as edible, and did actually taste good. I'm a little bit of a hypochondriac.

So that's where I've left it. I'm slightly afraid to eat the nuts, so I haven't, but I also feel like that's probably silly of me and they're perfectly good. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
Ashley Cottonwood
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Thank you for the update! Much appreciated!
 
pollinator
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Here's some notes from StarkBros about the cyanide and customer recommendations for harvesting Hall's Hardy:

Q: Do these almonds need to be boiled before eating to prevent cyanide poisoning?

StarkBros Staff: This variety happens to be a cross between an almond and a peach, resulting in a hardier tree with bittersweet almond kernels. You'd have to consume a fairly large amount of kernels to be affected by the prussic acid, but many growers recommend playing it safe and boiling the kernels anyway.

...sadly, that's a bit too vague for me. How much is "a fairly large amount"? We munch on (store-bought) almonds as a regular snack, and was hoping to do the same with Hall's Hardy.


Q: How easy is it to crack this nut?

Customer responses:
"It is really pretty easy; as nuts go its easiest by far. Theres outer layer and a more fibrous inner layer. Itll prove easier if you extra lightly roast entire shell nd nut prior to excising the nut."
"This nut is easy to crack with a nutcracker but not normally soft enough to crack with your fingers. "
"When ripe the outer husk will split (discard) and the almond in its shell will be exposed as they fall to the ground. Roast in the shell at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes till slight light brown, cool & eat . Use a very strong nut cracker."


...seems alot of people recommend roasting to make it easier to shell.

============

Dang, I have two Hall's Hardy, and hadn't realized (until last year) that they weren't true almonds. One of my is just about to to reach fruiting age (hopefully this year).

This is disappointing, but I guess I should've done more due-diligence before planting them five years ago. I planted another variety but it didn't survive, so I guess now I need to get more almond trees in the ground post-haste.

What *real* almond trees does anyone recommend?
 
Roberta Wilkinson
pollinator
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Hm. That roasting tip sounds like a good one. Unfortunately, no one on the internet seems to know if that's enough to denature any amygdalin present.

I've found lots of people running through the numbers and suggesting that about 20 almonds should be a reasonably safe dose of any type of almond, so eaten by the palmful rather than the bowlful it's probably fine.

I may play with blanching and roasting some time, but the reality is that we have so much other produce to process around harvest time, it's tough for a few questionable almonds to make the list.
 
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I tried eating the husk on my Hall's Hardy this fall and it seems somewhat promising.  You can tell it has a peach parent.  My plan is to grow a second peach/almond hybrid and then hand cross them and line out the nuts to see if I can get any trees from the crossing that have great peaches with great hardy almonds.  This seems like it shouldn't be that hard a breeding project to do, right?
 
pollinator
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Ashley Cottonwood wrote:
The Carpathian English Walnut seems to be quite cold hardy, and easier to process, but is a Juglan. I'm worried about my chickens having access to fallen fruit.  



there are black walnuts over my chicken run, and it hasn't caused any issues in years. i wouldn't worry for the chicken's safety at all - if anything, picking at hulls might give a bit of de-worming help (though my birds don't seem at all interested in the fallen nuts).
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