Macadamias are the edible nuts that come from the macadamia tree. The tree has four species but only three of them are of commercial importance. The other one produces poisonous nuts that resulted from toxic amounts of cyanogenic glycosides. Despite this, macadamias are native to Australia. Particularly, in New South Wales and Queensland.
Allan Cunningham encountered the plant in 1828. In 1857, a German-Australian botanist named the nuts from a Scottish physician and chemist, John Macadam, who promoted the nuts in Australia. By the year 1881, these nuts were in Hawaii. However, they were more used as an ornamental crop. It wasn’t until 1921 that the first commercial macadamia orchards in Hawaii were planted. Australia and Hawaii still produce large amounts of macadamias. However, as of 2018, South Africa has regained its crown as the world’s largest producer, accounting for 25% of global production. Kenya produces 14% while the United States produces 9%.
Macadamias have the highest fat content among all the tree nuts. Thus, they naturally have a rich, buttery flavor. When roasted or salted, their flavor intensifies while bringing a subtle sweetness and creamy texture. Hence, they make a great addition to desserts, especially in cookie doughs and pie crusts. But, they’re also used to compliment bitter foods.
Genus: Macadamia F. Muell.
Species: Macadamia integrifolia, M. jansenii, M. ternifolia, M. tetraphylla
Binomial Name: Varied (4 species)
- The National Macadamia Nut Day is celebrated every September 4th.
- Macadamia nuts are harvested from the ground. Although the trees bloom with nuts, they aren’t really picked directly off the tree. Instead, the growers wait for the nuts to fall to the ground before they harvest them as this is an indication that they’re ripe and ready to eat.
- Macadamia has the hardest shell among all nuts. It takes 300 pounds per square inch to break its shell.
- Macadamia nuts are toxic for dogs and cats. If they eat them, they wouldn’t be able to stand up for 12 hours. They will generally feel better after 48 hours though.