Macadamia Nuts from A to Z: 26 Things to Know


A list of interesting facts and figures about these delicious exotic nuts, which are considered delicacies for their rich flavour and oil.
Macadamia Nuts from A to Z: 26 Things to Know

Aborigines. The Australian aborigines first discovered Macadamia nuts about five centuries ago.

Bread. Crunchy macadamia nuts make an excellent ingredient for adding to nut bread and in the sweet version they pair up deliciously with bananas, pineapple and even lemon.

Coconut. Many describe the flavour of these nuts as being similar to that of fresh coconut. In actual fact, these two ingredients are used together in a number of recipes.

Dogs. Macadamia nuts, which are edible for human beings, are toxic for dogs and cats: when they eat them they are unable to stand up for 12 hours. After about 48 hours, they generally feel better.

This is certainly an energy-packed food with around 720/740 calories per 100 g.

Flight 86 and the Nutgate. On 5 December 2014 the daughter of the President and CEO of Korean Airways, Heather Cho was served a packet of Macadamia nuts prior to the take-off of company flight 86 from NY. Furious that she had not been given a plate, the woman delayed the take-off and forced the head steward to kneel and beg her pardon. This provoked a scandal and legal dispute which was resolved only two years later.

Garam masala. A spice mix like garam masala, or even a single spice or herb such as paprika, is sufficient to flavour these nuts and turn them into the perfect snack for accompanying an aperitif, after being roasted in the oven for about 8 minutes at 200°C.

Hawaii. The world’s number one exporter of Macadamia nuts, which were imported from Australia in 1887. The local Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation is the largest company in the world dealing with these nuts.

Integrifolia. The Macadamia nut is the fruit of two tropical trees, Macadamia integrifolia and Macadamia tetraphylla. There is also a third species which is edible but of inferior quality, the Macadamia teraphile, which grows in South Africa, Costa Rica, Brazil and California.

John Macadam. It is in honour of this chemist, professor of medicine and politician, the Scottish-Australian John Macadam (1827-1865), that this plant was given its name by a colleague and friend of his, Ferdinand von Mueller, director of the Royal Botanical Gardens of Melbourne.

Kara Damia
. A mousse of caramel milk and Macadamia nuts has been dubbed “Kara Damia”, this being one of the creations by Parisian master pastry chef Kevin Lacote.

Long life.
Macadamia oil can be stored out of the refrigerator for as long as two years without deteriorating.

Majesty. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth loves Macadamia nuts, which appear regularly on the breakfast table at Buckingham Palace: this revelation was made by her former chef Darren McGrady.

Nutrients. Compared to other nuts, such as almonds and cashews, they are higher in fats and lower in proteins. To compensate, they are very rich in some essential nutrients like thiamine and vitamin B6 as well as containing loads of minerals: manganese, magnesium and iron.

Oil. The Macadamia nut is very oily: in fact its oil content is around 78% (of which 60-80% is monounsaturated fat). The oil is extracted by cold pressing and is used in the cosmetics industry as well as in food.

Pesto. Macadamia nuts make an excellent substitute for pine nuts in pesto sauce – both the traditional recipe made from basil and other versions – ensuring a creamy result and a rather special flavour.

Queensland. This is the region of north-east Australia where the Macadamia tree originally comes from. For obvious reasons, the same tree is also known as the Queensland Nut.

If you intend to eat these nuts raw, the Macadamia tetraphylla variety is sweeter and therefore more palatable. On the contrary, when the recipe calls for oven baking its sugar content may cause it to burn so the best nut to use is the Macadamia integrifolia (which is also the most widely marketed species).

Smoke point. The smoke point of macadamia oil is relatively high, 210° C, so it is suitable for frying.

Toxic. Not all of the Macadamia species are edible. On the contrary, some – like the Macadamia whelanii and Macadamia ternifolia - are toxic and unfit for human consumption.

The round shell of this nut is very hard indeed. It is not at all easy to open; if kept in a cool dry place it becomes more yielding but this is detrimental to the nutritional properties of the fruit. Apart from humans, one of the few animals able to crack these nuts is the hyacinth macaw, a South American parrot.

Vegan cheese White, creamy and delicately flavoured Macadamia is used to make fondues and gourmet recipes for vegan “cheese”.

Water&salt. Like many nuts, Macadamia's contain enzyme inhibitors which may upset the gastric system. Just soak them for about 7 hours in water with a pinch of salt, then leave them to dry again if so required by the recipe.

Xtreme. Macadamia Bosque Aventura is the name of a forest park given over to extreme sports challenges in Colombia.

Years 2017-2022. In the years to come, the world market for Macadamia nuts is expected to grow.

Zucchini. Of all vegetables, this is probably the one whose flavour pairs best with Macadamia nuts. There are plenty of recipes containing these two ingredients: for example, salads, pasta sauces and hummus.