Macadamia lovers across the nation are in for a treat. Tonnes of new season’s fare have dropped to the ground at hundreds of picturesque plantations in subtropical New South Wales and Queensland, with the industry boosting its workforce by up to 2000 as it sets about harvesting the creamy, buttery kernels.
Production is up in Bundaberg and Gympie where hundreds of hectares of new trees have been developed and brought to their prime by favourable weather conditions, though this is balanced by a more modest crop in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales as a result of rain. Overall this year’s harvest is expected to about 35,000 tonnes of ‘nut in shell’.
Australian macadamia ambassador, reigning Celebrity MasterChef Eamon Sullivan, is excited about the quality of the kernels going to market which continues to be world-class.
“Australian macadamias have the natural advantage of being grown in their country of origin with production today centered around the same rich and fertile regions that were once home to the original native species,” Eamon said.
“For pure eating pleasure few foods can match the crisp texture and delicate flavour of macadamias, but it’s in the kitchen that their versatility shines through. Boasting a long shelf-life, they are perfect for pepping up a salad, adding a tasty, nutty crust to fish and chicken and inserting melt-in-the-mouth surprises into cakes, biscuits and desserts,” he said.
Mechanical harvesters have already started gathering nuts and removing their outer husks which are usually recycled as organic mulch. At the processing plant, the nuts are dried over three weeks then the incredibly hard outer shell is cracked to reveal the precious cargo inside.
Kernels are supplied to supermarkets, green grocers and specialty outlets, and to food manufacturers for use in all manner of products from chocolate to ice-cream. They are also roasted and sold in snack packs.
Australia is acknowledged as the world leader in production, research, marketing and development, and is the largest producer and exporter, delivering macadamias to more than 40 countries worldwide. Between $120 and $130 million worth of Australian macadamia products are exported each year.