Macadamia 101 – All You Ever Wanted to Know About a Nut
Since we arrived in New Zealand during the winter months, we were eager to find a place to plant ourselves and wait for the good weather. We chose the Coromandel Peninsula, just east of Auckland, and landed on a Macadamia Orchard just in time to help with the harvest.
Didn’t you know that macadamia nuts are harvested in winter? Yah, me neither.
Along with that little tidbit, we learned an incredible amount about the Macadamia in the 2 months we were on the Orchard. I thought I’d post some of my favorite macadamia trivia, just in case anyone was curious:
- Harvesting macadamias is every 7-year-old boy’s dream job. Grab a rake, climb a tree, and hit/scrape the nuts off their stem so that they fall onto the nets below.
- Raw macadamia tastes a lot like coconut.
- Macadamia Oil is a perfect substitute for butter in baking cookies and bread but is also called “liquid gold” due to its high cost.
- The tree takes over one full year to produce the nuts. So while you harvest, you have to be careful not to damage the flowers for next year’s crop.
- There is an outer shell, called the husk, which must be removed within 24 hours or the nut starts to germinate (go to seed).
- Once the nuts are husked, they must be dried until they lose ~25% of their weight, a process which takes at least a week.
- The shell of the nut is impossibly difficult to remove. We’ve heard of people putting the nut in a vise and then hitting it with a hammer. The couple on the orchard had fashioned a special sort of crank to do the job. Moana, the farm’s Jack-Russell Terrier, held the nut in her mouth until the shell softened enough to crack…dogs are fascinatingly intelligent.
- Macadamia crusted fish and scallops are to die for. As are Fred’s Chocolate Macadamia Brownies.
Rome is intoxicating in any season, but it truly pulls out all the stops in autunno – autumn. Crisp mornings give way to gorgeous sunny afternoons. Sleek sandals are upgraded to sexy leather boots. Necks of women and men are decorated with scarves – Italians are convinced that a bare neck (or sock-less feet) in cold weather will cause illness. And let’s not forget the fruits of the harvest – wine, olive oil, and veggie galore – pumpkin ravioli, eggplant parmesan, spinach gnocchi, and carciofi alla romana (artichoke stuffed with mint, parsley, and garlic). It’s too easy for me to get carried away, but one stroll along the Tiber River and you’ll understand why autumn is my favorite season in Rome.