Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Happy Macadmia Nut Day

September 4th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Thick tough shells of macadamias

Thick tough shells of macadamias. Photo by Bev Snow

It’s National Macadamia Nut Day.

Fact: They grow here in South Florida. (You can get the trees sometimes at the Palm Beach County Rare Fruit Council’s sale at the Mount’s Botanical Gardens — they have sales often.)

Fact: Most of the commercial crops are grown in Hawaii and a majority of the groves were once owned by Debbie Fields, of Mrs. Fields’ Cookie fame. She put this nut on the map with her white chocolate chip-macadamia nut cookies.

Very hard fact: One of the reasons they’re so expensive? They’re a beech to crack.

My good friend Beverly Snow of West Palm Beach, a fellow quilter and master at handmade dyed silks, called me on my reader hotline at The Post one Thursday.

“I’ve got all these macadamia nuts from my tree, but how on earth do you crack them?” she wailed. “I’ve tried everything but a sledge hammer.”

Unfortunately, the use of a sledge is about what it takes — 300 lbs. of pressure — to break the shells. The result, however, is sad: a smashed to smithereens nut, unusuable, mostly.

Roasting the nuts is the best bet: It shrinks the meat from the nut, and makes the shells a bit more brittle. The, you can take your trusty iron skillet and whack them inside a cloth bag to contain the things, best done on the floor.

A bad way to do it: a board, placed over the nuts, under the wheel of a car. That’s TOO much pressure.

Want that cookie recipe? Click here.

Tags: Today in the World of Food

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 bevsnow // Sep 4, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    I still have yet to snatch any away from those #$^&% squirrels. The tree suffered in the Frances/Jean/Wilma debacle, but did finally have a crop this year. I hope the squirrels enjoyed them!

  • 2 Jan Norris // Sep 4, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    One marvels at the force of nature that must be a squirrel’s jaw to be able to crack these nuts!

    I failed to note that Australia is the largest grower of macadamias. And that they make a delicious crust, when crushed fine, on mahi.

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