Origin: Kenya, Malawi, Australia
Scientific Name: Macadamia Integrifolia
Macadamia trees are indigenous to Australia. Prior to the colonization of Australia by the British in 1788, the indigenous people, the Aborigine, would congregate on the Eastern side of the Great Divide Range to feast on their seeds. Nowadays approximately 40% of world production is produced in Australia, followed by South Africa with a production of 20%, with the remainder is predominantly produced by the USA, Kenya, Malawi and Guatemala.
Macadamia trees can live more than 70 years and are large and bushy, growing upto 20 metres tall. They start producing a crop from four or five years of age and are in full production by their tenth year. Orchards are planted with several varieties to improve yields via cross-pollination. Flowering begins in spring, with approximately 10% of these flowers forming ‘nutlets’ and going on to ripen into nuts. Macadamia nuts have a very hard seed coats with a green husks which splits open as the nut matures. Mature nuts fall to the ground in late fall to early winter, which makes the harvest period much longer than most tree nuts. The buts are picked from the ground weekly during this period and are hulled within 24 hours of collection to decrease the likelihood of mould and rancidity.
Once the nuts are dehusked, the moisture must be reduced from approximately 25% to around 1.5% ready for cracking. The nuts then enter the shelling process. The nuts are machine cracked and then graded for size before the shell is removed via aspiration screens and colour sorters. The kernels fall onto the conveyor belt for hand sorting. Grading of styles and qualities is usually achieved using rotating screens.
Macadamias are graded into internationally recognised “styles”, ranging from Style 0 the largest whole macadamias, through to Style 8, which are fine grains. The majority of macadamia nuts are now roasting and salting, followed by its use as an ingredient in cookies and cakes. A small proportion is used in chocolating. Macadamia oil is a popular ingredient in cosmetics.
Madamias nuts are high in palmitoleic acid and omega 7 fats that’s help control the burning of fat and can curb the appetite. Macadamia nuts are 100% cholesterol free and studies have indicated that a diet enriched with macadamia nuts can lower blood cholesterol levels.