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Fruits, Flowers, Trees, and Animals at Silver Sands Jamaica

Authentic Jamaican Almond Drops by Cookie Beauchamp

In September, 2009, while we were visiting Silver Sands and the Fisherman's Beach community, I noticed a nutlike looking shell in abundance under certain trees. I asked a local friend, Lou, what kind of tree it was and she said it was an almond.  She  gathered a few of them and promised to show us  how to open them when we got back from our walk. 

Along the way, Lou entertained us with information about the area and different cultural things. One particular remembrance was of a special candy-like treat called almond drops made from this nut. Back at the villa, she shelled the almond and gave us a taste.  The almonds were excellent and I told Lou how funny that almonds in the USA are so expensive ($4-$6 a pound) and here they were lying untouched on the ground.
I was so intrigued by Lou's story as to how the almond drops were made, I just knew that I had to have her show me how to make the treat.

The next  day, we gathered almonds. Lou sat one entire afternoon shelling the almonds to make the authentic Jamaican almond drops.  That evening, Lou went out and found a huge banana leaf.  She washed it  off and then using the fire on the stove, browned the edges of the leaf.   Next, she took the shelled almonds, placed them in the heavy aluminum  cooking pot (that I have noticed in every good  Jamaican kitchen :D), and added enough water to blanch the almonds for a good half hour or more.  At that point, Lou added sugar and a pinch of salt.  She continued to stir and boil, watching the mixture very carefully. (Lou told us that when she was a child, the almond drops were never made on a stove, but on a wood fire outdoors.) The boiling liquid and almonds  started to thicken and at a certain point, Lou said  the drops were ready.  With a large spoon, she dropped mound after mound of the hot, sticky almonds  onto the banana leaf.  When the mounds had completely cooled, Lou slid her arms under the leaf and made a quick movement of the leaf and all of the almond drops came loose. We  bagged them and enjoyed the wonderful authentic treats for the rest of our visit.

In February, 2010, we returned to Duncan's Bay for our winter "fix" and I had made up my mind that I was going to harvest some more almonds.  I picked them up in Silver husband and granddaughter even picked them on the grounds of The Great House at Rose Hall.  Little by little, we would all take turns shelling the huge cardboard box of almonds we had gathered.  I squirreled them home in a ziplock bag in my suitcase, so that I could attempt to make Jamaican Almond Drops myself.

I didn't have an actual recipe, but was sure that I could remember enough of Lou's lesson to tackle them at home.  To duplicate the carmel-like colored Jamaican sugar, I mixed white and brown sugar together to make my almond drops.  Next time I  think I would only use white sugar, as mine turned out slightly  darker than Lou's. The overall product turned out quite well, albeit not as uniform or shiny as Lou's.  It was really fun to try it, though.

I am thinking that I may try this treat for Christmas  next year, using American almonds ;  somehow, I don't think they will be as special - partly because of the almonds - but mostly because they won't have been made in Jamaica while sipping Red Stripe on a warm September evening with friends.

Perhaps, I could use picking almonds as an excuse to return to Jamaica before the holidays, do you think? 
Our family and friends will never tire of learning more and more about the beautiful island of Jamaica and its extraordinary people.

Contributed by Cookie Beauchamp. Tastefully Simple Gourmet Food Consultant. Go to her website at and use her ID# 0054718!
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