Read At Home in Andalusia’s Spanish property market review of 2020 and why house prices did not fall in the Lecrin Valley…
— Read on athomeinandalucia.blog/2020/12/19/review-of-2020-and-why-house-prices-did-not-fall-in-the-lecrin-valley/
Spring has finally arrived this week, just in time for Semana Santa and the Lecrin Valley will be bursting with sunshine, flowers and Easter parades! Continue reading “Spring returns for Semana Santa”
The weather may have turned a bit chilly and autumnal in the UK this week, but not so in the Lecrin Valley, where the sunshine persists to provide lovely late summer weather, well into October and beyond. Continue reading “Make the most of the Lecrin Valley’s extended summer!”
This time of year has to be the best time in the Lecrin Valley… the spring flowers are all out, the birds are singing, the weather is beautifully warm and sunny and the smell of citrus blossom, or “azahar” is everywhere.
While the majority of this uplifting, sweet and pungent aroma is orange blossom, el Azahar officially includes all white citrus blossom, so the amazing aroma around the Lecrin Valley is made up of all the different types of oranges grown in the area, together with lemon, lime, tangerine and even some grapefruit found in local gardens.
Easily one of nature’s most amazing natural perfumes, it’s no wonder that perfumers all around the world try to capture this scent in their fragrances.
PERFUME DE AZAHAR
Que armoniosa belleza
tiene la flor de azahar
es blanca como las nubes
que en el cielo veo pasear.
Su aroma fuerte intenso
que el viento esparce al pasar
que enamora a las aves
cuando su néctar van a probar.
Hermosa tu que floreces
en un día primaveral
que invades con tu fragancia
de pureza sin igual.
En las ramas del naranjo
y también del limonar
estas pegada esperando
ser frutos para degustar.
February is always a busy time of the year in the valley with the winter citrus harvest. Already 50-60% of the harvest gathered, the cooperativa (the Lecrin Valley’s local farmers’ cooperative) at Melegis is working full pelt with truck loads of local Lecrin Valley oranges being weighed and boxed up every day. Most will be exported overseas for marmalade production.
However on an Andalusian scale and for Spain and northern Africa in general, the harvest is predicted to be down around 25% this year, due to the lack of rain and high temperatures last year. However that has been reported from Cordoba where they have much more extremes than we do in the valley, so hoping the Lecrin Valley harvest is a good one.
The less plentiful harvest means that prices will be driven up… and while some producers will benefit, sadly the local growers won’t, because most of them are tied in to low price contracts with the local ayuntamientos…
If you’re out and about in the Lecrin Valley, don’t think that you can just pick an orange off a tree and eat it. Oranges are not all made equal! Most of the oranges that are grown and harvested at this time of year are naranjas amargas or bitter oranges.
These oranges are great for making marmalade, because they have higher pectin content than sweet oranges, but they’re not for eating whole or putting in salads!
Bitter oranges can be used for making juices, but you’ll need to add sugar. If you’re in shops and supermarkets they’re are generally labeled “zumo” oranges and are the ones you’ll most likely find being sold outside people’s houses and by the roadside.
You can juice these and add sweeter fruit like bananas, mangoes or peaches to make smoothies. The flowers of the bitter orange tree are used for aromatherapy and these days often used in diet products as they’re believed to help weight loss.
If you want to eat fresh oranges in slices, in salads or in other food, look for “naranjas de mesa” or “table oranges”. These are most likely Navel (so-called because of their “tummy button”) or other varieties of sweet oranges.
Andalucia is the second biggest orange producing region (after Valencia) and produces over a million tons of oranges each year.
It’s important to support local growers where we can, so try to buy local and check the labels of oranges in your supermarket.
Winter is an amazing time to get walking in the Lecrin Valley. Whether you consider yourself a walking pro, weekend rambler or Sunday stroller, there’s a walk for you, and there’s no better way to see this amazing part of Spain than to get out amongst it in a comfy pair of trainers or walking boots.
The winter has been so mild, but there is still snow on the sierras, so you can basically walk through snow on the high ground, down to warm blossom filled orchards in the lower parts of the valley.
The almond blossom is now out and will shortly be followed by orange blossom from the hundreds of orchards around the area, so the air is filled with a gorgeous, sweet aroma and the scenery peppered with a light pink haze from the thousands of almond trees.
It’s a truly beautiful time of year and one where you get to really appreciate the beauty and contrasting elements of this amazing corner of Spain.
The following websites have great walks planned out for you that can be downloaded.
Or if you’re a local and want to get into walking regularly, then The Lecrin Valley Limpers has walks every weekend. http://lecrinlimpers.blogspot.co.uk or ask to join the Facebook Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/lecrinvalleylimpers. Members only.
If you want to get higher up into the Sierra Nevada, then contact Mike at Sierra Nevada Guides: http://sierranevadaguides.co.uk (based in Lanjaron).
No matter how many years you spend living in, or visiting the Lecrin Valley, you will never tire of the amazing spectacle every year when the almond blossom is in full bloom.
This year it arrived exceptionally early due to the mild weather, but the new blossom usually appears at the end of January, early February, heralding the spring and bringing the Lecrin Valley and surrounding hills to life at the end of the winter.
It’s so incredibly beautiful with the soft pink flowers contrasted against the rugged rockiness of the Andalucian landscape.
Photos by Danielle Gouwens @ At Home in Andalusia
If you’re looking for some warm winter sun and crisp blue sky days, but prefer incredible scenery to sun-baking and love walking and a bit of skiing, then this is a great time of year to visit the Lecrin Valley. It’s also a great time to visit the Alhambra and the rest of Granada without all the busloads of tourists.
There isn’t a huge amount of rain over the winter in the Lecrin Valley, not that you need much with the acequias running full pelt most days, but just enough, with plenty of water coming off the mountains to water the orchards and it’s amazing just how much fruit and orchard goings-on there is at this time of year.
You’ll still find a lot of fruit on trees too – plenty of oranges (our grapefruit and navel oranges hung on well into February), and it’s quickly mixed with new blossom for the next lot of fruit – citrus trees are very busy all year round! The Lecrin Valley becomes filled with that amazing sweet pungent scent of the “azahar” (official spanish name for the white flowers of the various citrus fruits).
In January, the whole valley is transformed again with the Almond Blossom. From white to pink, the blossom colours the entire landscape giving it a sort of pinky haze. And despite the sometimes ferocious wind, the little flowers manage to hang on well into February.
It’s an amazing smell and just when you think the trees have lost all their leaves and life for the winter they burst full of pretty pink and white flowers again.
How often when we eat almonds do we stop and think how they got to our table? Living here in the Lecrin Valley at this time of year it is a question that can easily be answered, as during the months of September and October the normal peace and tranquillity of the valleys and villages of Lecrin is broken by the sound of the small agricultural machines harvesting almonds.
Originally, almond trees came from Central Asia and were traditionally grown in non-irrigated areas of the Middle East and Mediterranean countries from ancient times until today. During the 18th century Spanish missionaries introduced the almonds to California, which is now the leading supplier worldwide, with Spain being in 2nd place.
The almond tree has an average life span of 20 to 25 years but does not bear fruit during the first 3 to 4. Additionally, almond trees are alternate bearing, so that a lighter crop the next often follows a large crop one year. The almonds are mainly shaken from the trees manually, although this can be done mechanically. They are encased in a tough leathery hull that has to be cracked open to expose the inner protective hard shell. It is during this first stage that the machines are used. The shells are then spread out in the sun for one or two days in order for them to dry until the kernels rattle inside. They are then bagged and stored for up to 6 months in a cool dry and well-ventilated area, which ensures lower moisture content and higher oil content.
But not only does the Lecrin Valley resound with the sound of the machines, but also the chitter chatter of families. It is not unusual for younger members of the family to return to the villages from the cities during harvest periods in order to help out with the labour intensive work. Parents, children and grandchildren are seen altogether gathered around the mountains of almonds, husks and drying shells as they prepare to get them into the sacks ready for market.
When thinking of almonds don’t just think of them as nuts as there are several different uses for them. Used in cereals and ice cream, they are also used for almond milk, which is a low fat non-dairy alternative for consumers who prefer to avoid dairy products. In addition to being a good source of protein, they are also a good source of Vitamin E, dietary fibre and monounsaturated fat, which is associated with the decreased risk of heart disease.
Additionally, they are used in beauty products. Almond oil helps to keep hair silky soft and is thought to keep greying hairs at bay. It is also used to keep skin smooth and supple and help with premature ageing. There is also growing evidence that almonds help with IQ and memory loss. You can blend them into a smoothie or milk shake to make a delicious drink. For the lovers of creative cooking there are some seriously mouth-watering recipes using almonds as many gourmet chefs are introducing them to their dishes. The least you can do after all the hard work involved in harvesting is to put them to the test.
Text by Elaine Dee Crawshaw
Photos by Lyn Baker
Additional photos sourced from Wikipedia, Guardian.co.uk and other local sources.
The Lecrin Valley is such a gorgeous place to sit out and admire the views and surroundings of this wonderful part of Spain. Now that the heat of the summer has dissipated a little, it’s the perfect time to lounge around al fresco.
Here are some of the best places to kick back with a cold beer or a tinto de verano and enjoy the sunshine and scenery.
- Los Naranjos del Valle – Melegis – lovely at lunchtime overlooking the lake and evening for a breezy al fresco dinner. Children’s playground too to keep the little ones occupied.
- El Rincon / Alqueria de Los Lentos – Niguelas – at the foot of the sierra just outside of Niguelas, it’s the perfect garden setting to sit with a drink and appreciate the local scenery. Great for sundowners and views of the mountains and over to Conchar.
- LA CONCA ARTS CLUB, between Chite and Melegis – beautiful rustic setting perched just above the bright blue water of beautiful Beznar reservoir. Often has live music in a bohemian setting.
- Thai Elephant Restaurant – Restabal – gorgeous tranquil and picturesque garden setting with views to the north across Restabal. Serves lovely Thai food and often with live music or special evening events. The resident cat and the peacocks will keep the kids amused!
- Rincón De Miguel (Miguel’s) – Niguelas – a great little local bar, perched on the terrace at the base of pretty Niguelas village. Perfect for afternoons and evening drinks as it gets the late sun, with views across to the windmills. Cheap drinks and Miguel’s generous tapas.
- Café Bar Venecia – Pinos del Valle. Perched above the main street, this cute bar that does great tapas, drinks and basic meals has a lovely terrace overlooking the valley towards Granada.
- Hacienda Señorío de Nevada – Conchar – an upmarket hotel and vineyard setting… enjoy drinks overlooking the pool with amazing scenery all around. NB> Every Friday night throughout July an August there’s drinks, BBQ and live music by the pool.
- La Tasca – Niguelas – lovely pizza restaurant and bar with indoor/outdoor terrace looking out up to the sierra and over the barranco. www.la-tasca.com
Click on the EATERIES page for more info on all these places.