Did you know that macadamia nuts are originally from Australia? I didn’t. I’d always associated them with Hawaii, probably because of those jars of Mauna Loa salted macadamias that were often floating around when I was a kid. They were delicious, but pricey, so I didn’t get to eat them very much, even when I got old enough to buy my own nuts. I was pretty pleased when I started looking at nuts in the supermarket down here and saw how reasonably priced they were—for nuts, that is. Then I saw some for sale in an Australian souvenir shop and realized it was because they’re local. This prompted me to do a little more digging (mostly on Wikipedia), and I present here, for your edification and entertainment, some macadamia trivia.
1. Macadamias are the only plant food native to Australia that is grown and exported in commercial quantities.
2. They became popular internationally after Hawaiian farmers began cultivating them in the early twentieth century.
3. There are nine different species, but only two are commercially produced, because the others contain toxins or are otherwise indigestible to humans.
4. Indigenous Australians have been harvesting macadamia nuts for thousands of years, and have developed processes to use all the species.
5. Their European name is in honor of Dr. John MacAdam, a scientist and secretary to the Philosophical Institute of Australia, by his friend, German-Australian botanist Ferdinand von Mueller, in 1857.
6. Among their recorded indigenous Australian names are gyndl, jindilli, and boombera.
7. Macadamia nuts are very high in monounsaturated fats, and macadamia oil is a valued ingredient in skincare products for its high concentration of Omega-7 acids.
As far as macadamia nuts are concerned, I have totally gone native. My snack food of choice these days is a salted macadamia-and-cashew combo that is sold under my local supermarket’s in-house brand (ie, cheap!), and I’ve recently switched over to a macadamia-oil-based moisturizer that is making my skin very happy, especially here in super-dry Canberra.
And, since I don’t like odd numbers, I’ll round off with my personal favorite bit of trivia gained from my reading:
8. Chopped macadamia nuts apparently regularly masquerade as crack cocaine in drug stings because they look so similar.