The farming lifecycle of a macadamia nut from flower to consumption
Macadamias are prolific producers with each tree bearing sprays (racemes) of long, delicate, sweet- smelling white or pink blossoms. Each spray of 40-50 flowers produces from four to 15 ‘nutlets’, which will eventually ripen into nuts. Flowering occurs in early spring.
Nuts forming in early summer and by autumn, clusters of plump green nuts appear. The nuts grow encased in a hard, woody shell, which is protected by a green-brown fibrous husk. Shell hardening takes place in early December followed by rapid oil accumulation in late December and January.
Between March and September, the mature nuts fall to the ground and are collected with purpose built harvesters. The fibrous outer husk is removed within 24 hours of harvest to reduce heat respiration and facilitate drying. The husk is recycled as organic mulch.
When the nuts fall, the kernel is protected by an incredibly hard shell. Careful drying maximises quality of the end product. At harvest the nuts have a moisture content of up to 30%. Drying takes up to three weeks and reduces the moisture content to around 1.5%.
The kernel shrinks away from the inside of the shell and allows the shells to be cracked by specially developed machinery, without damaging the kernel. These machines have either a fixed blade and cutting blade, or a combination of rollers and a base plate to compress the shell.
The nut kernel is the final product ready to eat! They are supplied to food manufacturers, or packaged up to be supplied direct to you for eating! YUM!