A hard nut to crack – but it's healthy for your heart

AUSSIE NATIVE: The macadamia offers a healthy combination of nutrients.
AUSSIE NATIVE: The macadamia offers a healthy combination of nutrients. Lee Constable

THEY look after your heart because they contain a healthy combination of nutrients, including unsaturated fats, fibre, amino acids and antioxidants.

They're an Australian native nut and were a treasured delicacy for traditional Aboriginal Australians.

Australia is the largest producer of macadamias in the world.

The Australian macadamia industry is worth more than $200 million annually, employs thousands of people and contributes millions of dollars to regional economies.

Of those who buy macadamias, 83% love the taste more than any other nut.

Macadamias are the hardest nut in the world to crack - which is why they're almost always sold already shelled.

The long luxurious life of an Australian macadamia:

  • Creating the world's finest nut takes patience, skill and lots of loving attention.
  • It can take up to 10 years before a macadamia tree reaches maturity and maximum yield.
  • Mature trees grow to heights of 12-15 metres.
  • They are prolific producers with each tree bearing sprays (racemes) of long, delicate, sweet-smelling white or pink blossoms.
  • Each spray of 40-50 flowers produces from four to 15 "nutlets", which will eventually ripen into nuts.
  • The first flowering occurs in early spring with nuts forming in early summer and, by early autumn, large clusters of plump green nuts appear.
  • Between March and September, as if guided by nature, the mature nuts fall to the ground, thus removing the need to shake the trees which could damage their delicate root system.
  • Fortunately, when the nuts fall, their precious cargo is protected by an incredibly hard shell.
  • Once on the ground, the production process begins.
  • Mechanical harvesters are used to gather the nuts and the outer husk is removed.
  • The husk material is usually recycled as organic mulch and the nuts are placed in storage silos awaiting delivery to the processing plant.
  • The hard, round, nut-in-shell is transported to the factory where they are weighed and samples are analysed in a laboratory for quality and moisture content.
  • The nuts are then removed to drying silos where heat is applied to them in preparation for cracking.
  • The full drying process can take up to three weeks during which time the moisture content falls to around 1.5% and the kernel shrinks away from the inside of the shell.
  • After drying, a specially designed cracker breaks the rock hard shell without damaging the precious kernel inside.
  • The kernel is graded according to size and then packaged up ready for its journey into the hands of consumers.

Topics:  healthy heart macadamias nutrition

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