Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Macadamia Nuts

I have wanted to write about our local macadamia grove for months- and I'm finally getting around to it. Actually, the timing will work out well, because I can show you the spring photos and now harvest photos.
First, a little background about macadamia nuts. They are high in oleic acid (the same "good fat" found in olive oil). Oleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid, and has been shown to reduce overall cholesterol levels, while increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol and reducing LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Omega fatty acids are beneficial for cardiovascular and neurological (brain!) health. Macadamia nuts are also high in palmitoleic acid, another monounsaturated fatty acid linked with reducing cholesterol, and aiding in fat metabolism. Macadamia nuts are strongly anti-inflammatory, and are a great source of thiamin, iron, magnesium, copper and manganese.

Raw macadamias are a versatile RAW food ingredient- they can be used to make creams, crusts, cookies, cheeses, and sauces- but they are nearly impossible to find- and when you do find them, they are incredibly expensive. This week at Whole Foods, raw macadamias are going for $21.99/lb. 

The macadamias you find in the store are often from Hawaii, Australia, Africa or Brazil. This week, the ones at Whole Foods came from Kenya. For me, it's hard to justify the fuel cost for shipping those nuts across continents. Not to mention, they've been shelled, packaged, and transported, for who knows how long, in who knows what temperatures (macadamias are high in oils and should be kept at low temperature to prevent rancidity). Consequently, you wind up with a very ecologically expensive and financially costly product, that doesn't even taste as good as nature intended.
Imagine my joy when I discovered a local grove and arboretum that specializes in macadamia trees. When I first learned there was a macadamia grove in Florida, I had to see it. I had never seen macadamias on a tree. In fact, I'd never even seen one in a shell. I was curious about what they looked like, and how they grow.

As it turns out, IFAS (Florida Ag Extension) didn't think macadamias could grow in Florida. But Mr. Anderson, the owner and operator of Anderson's Macadamia Grove, proved them wrong. He started out as a hobby farmer and rare fruit grower/collector, and now he has a 20-acre grove with over 50 varieties of macadamia nuts. Some of the varieties he has cultivated himself, others are from Australia or Hawaii.

Macadamias are a new crop for Florida. Not many people know they grow here. In fact, I don't think I've talked to anyone who realized that they grow here, but for a few serious gardeners and rare fruit hobbyists who have planted macadamia trees in their yards.

So, this past March, Joan, Bailey and I took a trip out to the Anderson grove. Mr. Anderson was very kind to take us around the property and show us the trees, and how they grow.

And... now that I want to post photos of that trip, I can't seem to find all of them. I had a particularly cute one of Bailey sitting in the grove, but I can't seem to find it now.  *Imagine adorable Bailey pic here*

This may be a good place to mention that macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. Do not feed macadamia nuts to your dog!

Here are some photos from the grove:
I typed 30+ year old trees on this photo when I edited it in March- but I might be wrong about that. Those might only be 15 year old trees. I'll ask when I go out there again.

The trees in bloom:
The nuts will grow in clusters on these stems.
Here is what the trees look like now, with the nuts growing on the trees:
The green layer is called a husk. Inside the husk is the shell. Inside the shell is the nut:
Different variety: 
This is not my photo below, but one I found on the internet that shows the husk-shell-nut:
Photo source

I am going to stop here for now... Blogger is not cooperating with me today, and right now it won't let me upload any more photos. I'd like to finish this post before publishing it, but it's long enough as it is, so I'll just publish what I have and continue in a new post tomorrow. Ah, the suspense! LOL

No comments:

Post a Comment