|All About Macadamias
In the early 1900's an enterprising group of horticulturists from America took young Macadamia Trees back to Hawaii. The Macadamia Nut Industry fast became established becaue of the ideal volcanic soils of the Hawaiian countryside. That is why the Macadamia Nut is often given the title - Hawaiian Nut.
Australia has since recognised the potential of its own native crop & now the Australian Macadamia Industry is finally catching up.
Macadamias are a part of the Proteaceae family. They are named after John Macadam, who at the time was a well-respected chemist & member of the Legislative Asembly for Castlemaine in Victoria.
There are five species of Macadamia, two of which are edible and cultivated in australia. Macadamia Integrefolia is a smooth shelled nuy and Macadamia Tetraphylla produces nuts with a rough shell.
Walter Hill cultivated the first Macadamia Integrifolia in the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, in the year 1858. It is still alive and bearing fruit today.
1. The Growing Process
> Flowers are borne on long sprays called racemes. The mature racemens vary from 100mm to 300mm in lenth and carry 100 to 300 flowers. About 10% of these will evenetually form 'nutlets' and ripen into nuts.
> The outer bright green husk concels a brown seed or nut that consists of an outer, hard shell and an inner cream-coloured kernel.
> It takes around 185 days from fruit set to maturity. The weaker baby fruit drop continuously for about 50 to 60 days after fruit set.
> A naturally grown Macadamia tree takes about 9 to 12 years to bear fruit.
In its natural state a Macadamia tree will have flowers, nutlets and mature nuts growing simultaneously, in profusion fo much of the year.
> Cultivated Macadamia Trees (whcih we grow at Hunter Valley Macadamia Lodge) are produced from grafts and cuttings. They take only about three to five years to bear fruit. The nuts fal to the ground when they are ready for harvest.
2. The Harvest
> Macadamia Nuts fall to the ground continuously from April to September and are harvested using a hand harvester, a type of machine with spokes which collect the nuts from the ground. We also collect them by hand.
3. Dehusking the Nut
> The harvested nuts are tken back to the processing shed for dehusking with a special machine which takes off the outer green shell. This machine can dehusk 90 kilos of nuts in one hour.
> Any Macadamias that are too small to process fall through a grate with the green husks. The husks are then used for mulch under the Macadamia trees.
4. Drying the Nut
> The Macadamia kernel is quite soft at this stage and still encased in the hard brown shell. The Macadamias are place in drying bins for a period of three to eight weeks.
> As they dry the nuts shrink away from the shell and become hard. A "rattle" test is done to see if the Macadamias are ready to crack.
5. Cracking the Nut
> The Macadamia is probably the hrdest of all nuts to crack. Our commercial cracking machine can crack up to 85 kilos per hour.
> The Macadamias are loaded into a large hopper, carries up a type of conveyer belt and then "squashed" against a steel cutting plate. When cracked they fall into a stainless steel tray, shell and kernel together ready for sorting.
6. Sorting the Nut
>Now comes the hard part! This is the most labour intensive part of the job. Our nuts are all hand sorted.
>The larger pieces are then roasted, or coated with chocolate. The smaller pieces are used in our chocolates, maca road and maca brittle. The shells are used as mulch for our native gardens and citrus trees.