A few almond facts: Almonds are California’s second agricultural crop, second to dairy. Almonds are a stone fruit, sharing characteristics with apricots and peaches. 90% of California almond farms are family farms. Almond orchards are the first food source in the spring for bees used for pollination. Just a few facts.
However, this leads to CHICO CHICA ALMOND BUTTERS. Out of the blue (another way of getting new products,) I was telephoned and a female voice asked if I would be interested in tasting a new, very high quality almond butter. I answered that I was interested in tasting any high quality product. So an appointment was made for the two owners of a small almond orchard near Chico, Ca., to bring down their two products: Chico Chica Almond Butter, smooth or crunchy. They were delicious. Here is their story:
Sometimes there's a special place; a healthy, beautiful place, that beckons to us from the borders of what we know. This happened two years ago when a casual discussion about rural property ended in the purchase of a lovely, 7-acre almond orchard on Floating Cloud Farm in Chico, California.
The orchard has the world's best soil (Class One: Chico Loam). The trees are at their prime - about 15 years old. It's organically farmed, and there’s a rushing creek coursing through the property.
Jodi Host, a Cal State Chico grad and Chinese Medicine practitioner, partnered with Georgia Zweber, a Bay Area career woman and previous restaurant venturer, to work the farm. After tasting the almonds it was clear that wholesaling the nuts would not do them justice. Georgia and Jodi began making almond butter with just dry-roasted nuts: no sugar, salt, or added oils.
The orchard has four varieties of almonds for pollination and strength of diversity: Butte, Carmel, Price, and Non-pareils. The cream of the crop is the Nonpareils. The Chico Chica "non-pars" make up 40% of the crop. Most almond growers reserve these non-pars for specialty treats: spiced or candied almonds, or plain raw almonds, because they are the sweetest, most flavorful nuts. Not Chico Chica. This almond butter incorporates all of the nonpareils from the crop, and the result is a more full-flavored, yet delicate almond butter with a rosy hue.
The two "Chico Chicas" went into production and made their inaugural run of 7100 12 oz. jars in April 2017. Chico Chica almond butter doesn't need refrigeration if unopened. There is both crunchy and smooth. Just give it a good stir when you open it and refrigerate afterwards.
It's non-GMO, of course, vegan, heart-healthy, great on sliced apples, toast, in smoothies, in baked goods, or simply at the end of a spoon in your mouth. Chico Chica will be CCOF certified in July, 2018. Meanwhile, the farm is bee-friendly, organic, sustainable, and lovingly cared for by the Chicas (with help from three enthusiastic dogs and three very cool cats).
A very interesting snack or appetizer using the Chico Chica almond butter is to use it to fill a celery stick, then top it with a small dice of really good dried apricots. There you have celery with the stone fruit family, and a variation of the classic American “Ants on a Log” made with peanut butter and raisins on a celery stick.