South Africa

Macadamia – the queen of nuts

Ravines & swamps

It is April in South East Africa. The temperatures in Mpumalanga, a province which is better known for the Kruger National Park, are summery and tropical. The countryside is characterised by the deep ravines of the Drakensberg and the never-ending swamps in the lowlands. Plantations with large Macadamia integrifolia trees can be found in between these. Early in the morning it is still pleasantly cool here, and the harvesting of delicious macadamia nuts is already in full swing.

Since 2014, three organically certified farms have been producing macadamia nuts in line with European standards for ONE NATURE organic on an area of 25 hectares. The conditions for the cultivation of these superior nuts are optimal here: constant temperatures of approx. 25°C, regular precipitation in equal amounts throughout the whole year and low wind.  After a six month ripening period on the evergreen trees which reach up to 15 metres in height, the nuts fall to the ground. Now, the farm labourers begin their work, to collect the “queen of nuts” by hand, to pack them into large crates and to bring them to the farm.

The time consuming processing of the macadamia nuts – which also makes them the most expensive type of nut – starts with the removal of the green outer husk by a husking machine. A nut kernel remains, which is still surrounded by an additional brown husk. In order to ensure a good shelf life, the nuts are initially dried for approximately 4 to 5 days at ambient temperatures, then 2 to 3 days at 38°C, and finally for approximately 5 days at up to 50°C. The moisture content is reduced during this process to less than 7.5%. After the brown husk is cracked open, the almost white, crunchy but soft kernels can be removed, which are sorted according to size and colour and are washed. The last processing step involves gentle drying in a special chamber at 40°C while continuously checking humidity levels. Before the prepared macadamia nut kernels are packed into cartons for transport to Germany, the first residue analysis is carried out. If the result is in line with the stringent requirements of ONE NATURE organic, the container with the raw material starts its journey overseas. Once in Germany, the delivery is again subject to an extensive incoming inspection with a residue analysis before the macadamia nut kernels are filled into containers and delivered to the organic markets.

One nut travels the world

Originating in Australia’s rainforests, the macadamia began its trip around the world in 1858 after the German botanist Ferdinand von Mueller discovered the fruits, which until this point had been wild-growing, and named them after his friend Dr. John Macadam. Nowadays, macadamia trees grow in Hawaii, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay, in Kenya and of course also in South Africa. But back in the day, Australia’s native inhabitants already had great respect for the nutritious nuts with their slightly sweet, nutty taste and buttery smell.

A unique dietary enhancement

Thanks to its unique, buttery aroma, the macadamia nut is a real indulgence when eaten in its natural state. They also add refinement to desserts or spicy dishes. Whether they are added to salad as a crunchy extra, mixed with Parmesan cheese and herbs as a coating for chicken, added to soups and sauces for that extra touch, or as an ingredient in cakes or biscuits – the possibilities for their use are endless. Macadamia nuts are characterised by their special fat profile, in which the high proportion of simple unsaturated fatty acids and linolenic acid are of particular note as omega 3 fatty acids. They contribute towards maintaining normal blood cholesterol levels. Furthermore, macadamia nuts have a significant amount of vitamin B1. The vitamin, also known as thiamine, contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system and supports the function of the heart.