Ripe Macadamia Nuts in Tree Ready to Pick


On Saturday I drove to a local organic macadamia nut orchard. It is a trek I’ve been making every few months for more than a decade. The owners of the orchard have become friends. There is almost always an opportunity for some inspiring conversation when I go to pick up the usual—five kilograms of unshelled, raw macadamia nuts.

Here is another reason I love to source as much of our food locally as possible. Not only is their dialogue shared between buyer and seller, there is genuine appreciation on both sides. The growers know where their produce is going and I know where our food comes from and how it is grown. It doesn’t get transported far so its not part of the increasingly wasteful global economy.

And, aside from the wonderful flavour macadamias possess there are a number of important health benefits:

  1. They contain no cholesterol. Medical studies have shown that eating 6-20 macadamia nuts a day will lower blood cholesterol levels by 7% in four weeks
  2. The incidence of heart diease is significantly lower in people who eat macadamia nuts habitually (5 times a week).
  3. They are high in fibre, antioxidants and vitamins A, B group and E
  4. They also contain trace elements such as selenium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and magnesium

The macadamia tree originates in the rainforests of southern Queensland in Australia. The macadamia nut industry only took after huge plantations were established in Hawaii. Now it has been found the trees grow prolifically here in northern New Zealand. I’m glad of that.

We eat them fresh and add them to raw green soups, smoothies and pestos. As with other nuts we usually soak and drain them before using. They may taste great roasted but I believe their health benefits come to the fore when they are eaten raw. They taste excellent that way as well.

We store them in several plastic bags in a large plastic bin to keep them dry and fresh. They are only cracked at the time we use them. A warning: the shells of macadamia nuts are extremely hard and will

The Cropper Cracker

 break most nut crackers. We’ve been using a New Zealand made macadamia nut cracker for close to 20 years. It’s called a Cropper Cracker. We only invested in it after destroying a couple of wimpier models. It truly takes a robust cracker or a rat’s teeth to conquer a macadamia nut shell. There is a simpler, cheaper way as well—use a hammer with the hard round shells placed in an indent in a wooden stump or in the grooves of a rubber door mat!

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See

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