Macadamia Nut

Macadamia Nut

Ingredient: Macadamia nut
Latin name: Macadamia integrifolia, M. tetraphylla
Uses: nut

What are macadamia nuts?

Macadamia nuts are the seed of the tropical macadamia tree, a member of the Proteaceae family. Two of the four species are cultivated for human consumption; the other two contain high levels of toxic cyanogenic glycosides. You’ve probably seen them in the grocery store candy aisle, flavoring coffee, or in white chocolate chip cookies, but nonindigenous people didn’t start consuming them until the 1850s.

Why are macadamia nuts healthy?

Like many nuts, macadamias are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that reduce LDLs (“bad” cholesterol) and can prevent coronary artery disease. They’re also high in protein and fiber. The insoluble fiber help support gut health by feeding the good bacteria.

Additionally, macadamia nuts have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any tree nuts. The vitamin E and flavonoids in macadamias help reduce inflammation and may help kill or fight cancer cells.

What do macadamia nuts taste like?

Macadamia nuts are a densely crunchy nut with a sweet/nutty, creamy/buttery flavor with very faint tropical/coconutty undertones. If they’re improperly stored, however, they can take on an unpleasant vinegary flavor.

How do I use macadamia nuts?

Macadamia nuts are delicious on salads or in baked goods. You can leave them whole or chop them. Add finely chopped macadamias to coconut make a good breading for frying. If you have raw macadamias, make a rich nut milk.

What do macadamia nuts pair well with?

Macadamia nuts are a spectacular example of “what grows together goes together.” They love Hawaiian food, and other tropical ingredients like coconut, coffee, mango, banana, pandan, rice, ube/purple yam, and chocolate. All complement macadamias’ rich butteriness. They’re a great substitute for cashews in Thai curries and Indian dishes, as their sweetness tempers spicy cream sauces.

Where do macadamia nuts grow?

Macadamia nuts originated in what is now eastern Australia (where they were part of the Aboriginal diet for millennia), and the English began cultivating them there in the 1860s. South Africa grows the most macadamias in the world, but the largest (and best-known) processor of the nuts is in Hawaii. Hawaii’s macadamia orchards may have all inadvertently come from one single Australian tree, making them essentially clones, and putting them at risk of catastrophic loss if exposed to pathogens.

How to buy macadamia nuts:

Macadamia nuts are often sold roasted and seasoned in bags or glass jars for snacking, but you can also find them raw in mainstream grocery stores. As a fatty nut, macadamias should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent them from going rancid and developing off flavors.

Surprising macadamia nut fact:

Even though macadamia nuts are a tree nut, less than 5% of tree nut allergy sufferers are allergic to macadamias. They’re toxic to dogs, though, causing weakness and paralysis.