One of the greatest joys of travel is indulging in favorite foods simply because you are at the source.
On a recent visit to Hawaii, myMEGusta found these little treasures in surprising places like salads, beyond the usual coatings for fish or chicken.
She even went to the touristy Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory on the Big Island, complete with unlimited free samples in a jillion flavors. Lunch that day was a macadamia ice cream cone.
A particularly amusing part of the self guided tour through this Hershey subsidiary was a view of the chocolate covered macadamia production line, reminiscent of I Love Lucy’s adventures in a candy factory.
Macadamia nuts are not native to Hawaii, the first tree having been imported from Australia in 1881. That country also has a thriving macadamia business, but most of theirs go to China and elsewhere in the Far East, although if there are crop shortfalls in Hawaii, Australian nuts come to the United States, too. California, South Africa, New Zealand and other countries where the weather is accommodating also produce the nuts.
Have you ever wondered why they are almost always shelled, normally not sold fully “clothed” in their native shells? It’s because these are the hardest nuts to crack, and if you get too aggressive in opening them, the meat inside gets damaged. The producers of macadamia nuts have special machinery which is strong enough to break the shells, but calibrated to do so without destroying what’s inside.
One unusual customer for the whole unbroken nut is the macaw, and owners of such birds are the primary market for one California macadamia coop. The tough shell, a problem for most of us, is useful to the birds in keeping their beaks strong.
Speaking of birds, the worst natural enemy of the Australia macadamia nut industry is the cockatoo, not a factor in Hawaii.
Macadamia nuts are the highest in calories among popular nuts, at over 200 calories per ounce, and 93% of those calories come from mono-saturated (“good”) fat. By comparison, pistachios are 161 calories per ounce, 72% of which comes from fat. We like to think of all nuts as a relatively healthy treat, okay to enjoy in moderation. But, this does not include noshing on anything covered in chocolate!