This year's harvest of Australian macadamias is almost finished and the season has been a cracker, so make sure you pop some Aussie macadamias into the market basket when you go shopping this weekend.
The Australian Macadamia Society (AMS) has released the third crop forecast for the 2014 season and is confident the Australian crop is on track to hit 41,000 tonnes in-shell. 'Favourable conditions throughout the growing season and during harvest combined with improved yields on-farm have resulted in an increase in the forecast from 40,000 tonnes to 41,000 tonnes at 10% moisture,' AMS CEO, Jolyon Burnett, reported.
While previous seasons were affected by harsh weather conditions, the current crop is extremely good with perhaps the most abundant supply of nuts seen in recent years. 'Wet weather in SE Queensland and the Northern Rivers may delay some final harvest rounds, but this is not expected to adversely affect kernel quality.' Well that's certainly good news.
Did you know that 70% of the Australian macadamia crop is exported each year? As the leading producer of macadamias in the world, Australia contributes over 30% of the global crop and exports to 40 countries, including Japan, Europe and North America. According to the AMS, it's estimated that there will be a slight increase in nut in-shell shipments to China this year, up from 10,000 to 11,000 tonnes. This is a significant increase from the estimated 5,000 tonnes in 2013.
Interestingly, the macadamia is the only native Australian crop that has ever been developed and traded internally as a commercial food product. Today macadamias are the third largest Australia horticultural export. It's hard to image a land better suited to producing macadamias than the area where they first evolved 60 million years ago, that is, the north east coast of Australia. With just the right soil, just the right climate and just the right group of dedicated growers, it truly is the natural home of the world's finest nut.
Macadamias contain a potent bundle of heart protective nutrients including ‘good fats’ (plant omega-3s and monounsaturates), plant sterols, dietary fibre and antioxidants like vitamin E and manganese. One handful of macadamia nuts provides one third of the recommended daily vitamin B1 intake, an important vitamin for releasing energy from food, and necessary for normal functioning of the heart and nervous system.
Stored correctly in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer, macadamias are perfect to keep on hand for pepping up a salad, adding a nutty crust to a fish, veal or lamb dish, and are perfect for adorning cakes and desserts. I love this macadamia, mango and almond torte; adore macadamia ice cream served in a wattleseed cone; and always add chopped macadamias to my ANZAC biscuits! What's your favourite?
Please join me in an online cooking class and learn how simple it is to make macadamia butter with this video from the Australian Macadamia Society.
A note to my treasured readers: this clip was originally published on my 'Market Basket' tab some time ago... regular visitors may have noticed that I'm slowly but surely streamlining my site, moving to front-and-centre some particularly good things that were previously buried under other tabs. I do hope you won't mind.
A note of thanks to Australian Macadamias for featuring me on their 'Friday Fan Quote'... sharing my first experience with macadamia nuts. I still smile broadly when I think back to that delicious macadamia day in 1976 that I enjoyed with my co-worker friends.
Tell me dear readers, do you love macadamia nuts as much as I do? Have you ever made macadamia butter? And do you remember your first experience with macadamias?
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.