Macadamias have been around for over millions of years, and can be traced back to the rainforest along the north east coast of Australia.
Before European settlement, Aboriginal people fed on the seeds of evergreen trees, one which was called ‘Kindal Kindal’ which was the macadamia. Aboriginal women would collect macadamias and take them to the feasting grounds, removing the husk and cracking the shells using rocks. This would involve placing the nut over a flat rock and then striking it with a larger stone, which acted like a hammer.
Macadamias were not an everyday staple, instead, there were viewed as a delicacy and were treasured and collected wherever possible. They were also traded between tribes and European colonies, and used as special ceremonial gifts at inter-tribal festivals.
The Aboriginal people had a special legend, explaining the origins of the macadamia:
A long time ago, in the Dream Time, when Yindingie the Messenger God was leaving the mountain, the people had to decide who was going to look after the land. Since the mountain was very far away, nobody really wanted to go, but a man named Baphal said he would go.
Baphal packed and set out towards the mountain but unknowingly to him, his friend the jewel lizard hid in his bag. When Baphal finally reached the mountain, the lizard jumped out and told Baphal that he didn’t want to leave him, so he hid and came along.
One day, when Baphal was walking he hurt his foot, and could not get to any food or water. The lizard could tell that Baphal was hurt, so he asked the rock wallaby for help. The rock wallaby said “We need to get him some water and food,” and they asked the cockatoo for help. The cockatoo flew out and collected some nuts and scattered them around the mountain so that Baphal could have food.
So when the people see the nuts, they call them Baphal’s nuts, which are otherwise known as macadamia nuts today.
Not only are macadamias tasty, they are also healthy too! Macadamias are rich in healthy fats, and one serving contains dietary fiber, protein, maganses, thiamine and a good amount of copper. Studies have found that eating macadamias can lower the risk of heart diseases as they are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which can make platelets less sticky and less likely to form clots in blood vessels. Macadamia nuts also have a unique profile of macro and micronutrients and other bioactive compounds that help improve blood sugar levels and counter the ill effects of diabetes.
Macadamias are also a good source of calcium, magnesium and potassium - the three minerals which help prevent bone demineralisation and protect bone health.
Macadamia nuts are rich in flavour and are great for deserts, especially in cookies. These are some creative ideas for ways to use macadamia nuts in the kitchen:
- Macadamia flour: a gluten-free and low-carb option for baking
- Macadamia milk: a dairy-free option that can easily be made at home by soaking macadamia nuts and blending them together
- Macadamia nut butter: macadamia nuts can be blended together in a food processor, with some oil and honey added
- Macadamia oil: macadamia oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil, and is a healthier option for baking, grilling or stir-frying
RECIPES USING MACADAMIA NUTS
Ready to get your hands on this tasty treat? Why not try some of these recipes below!
Evergreen macadamia trees flourish along Australia’s subtropical east coast, with Australia being one of the main suppliers of macadamia nuts. Macadamia trees have evolved in an environment of rich soils, warm temperatures and high rainfall. Two of the nine species - Macadamia tetraphylla and Macadamia integrifolia are edible, consisting of an outer husk and cream-coloured kernel. Macadamia farmers usually plant different macadamia varieties every few rows to encourage cross-pollination.
Macadamias are a subtropical rainforest tree and perform best in areas that have distinct wet and dry periods. However they can tolerate a wide range of moisture conditions. In the wild, macadamia grows on uniformly dark soils that vary in texture from clayey sand through various types of loam to silty clay. However, under cultivation, macadamias grow on a wide range of soils but perform best on well-drained soils with deep topsoil and high organic matter content.
How would you describe the texture and flavour of macadamias? Smooth? Creamy? Buttery? Well, there’s only one way to find out!
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